Lots of empty seats tonight, compared to past seasons. Sunday night is probably a hard sell to families when the team is winning big. It’s a good-sized crowd, however, and this place can get very loud.
Tonight’s game is a hard one to call. SIU is hard to figure out. It, along with Illinois State, are the two teams that appear to be talented, yet aren’t playing as well as I expect. Wichita State is playing well, but their performances on the road leaves room to doubt.
The Shockers know there is almost no room for error. It’s going to be tough to catch Northern Iowa. A loss tonight hands the Panthers a three-game lead with seven to play.
WSU has a 17-game losing streak in Omaha. It has an 11-game losing streak here. I’ve walked away from games at Creighton thinking WSU played well and could have won. I haven’t had that feeling in my four previous trips to SIU Arena.
Even the 2006 team didn’t play well here.
WSU coach Gregg Marshall stopped by Poplar Bluff, Mo., on his way to Carbondale to watch Ehimen Orukpe play Saturday for Three Rivers Community College. He was pleasantly surprised to see him play as much as he did, considering Orukpe had missed seven games with a stress fracture in his left foot. Orukpe’s defense remains a plus. He continues to be a project with the basketball. Overall, Marshall was pleased with what he witnessed. He knows WSU coaches will get a lot of time to work with Orukpe over the next three seasons and the starting point is a good one.
Evansville lost at home to Indiana State today. I would say the 0-18 watch is on for real. The Aces are 0-11 with road games remaining against WSU, Creighton, SIU and Drake. No obvious wins there. Home opponents are Bradley, WSU and Northern Iowa. That’s a tough schedule.