1. Which of Wichita State’s remaining road games (Loyola, SIU, Missouri State) concerns you the most?
Bryan Steele: I feel like it should be Loyola with their guards who are long, athletic, and have the ability to penetrate and hit outside shots, but I just can’t get too scared about a team that has yet to beat Wichita State since it joined the conference.
I will go with Missouri State and Alize Johnson. They have some good outside shooters, but we haven’t seen very many true post players with the skill level of Johnson go toe to toe with the Shockers. Shaq (Morris) and (Rauno) Nurger will need to be engaged from the tip.
Sasha Bouska: All three of the remaining Shocker opponents are potential stumbling blocks. The league is very balanced behind the top two and it’s hard to know which teams will get hot on a given night when you go on the road.
That said, Loyola gave us a fairly tough game at home and has the shooters to pose a potential threat. I think the Shockers will win all three, but Loyola concerns me the most.
David Gonzalez: Loyola concerns me the most, because they’re an offense driven team that has created problems for the Shockers. In my opinion, they’re this year’s wild card and a very hard team to figure out.
Led by senior Milton Doyle, the Ramblers lead the Valley in both field goal percentage (48.8 percent) and three-point percentage (41.5 percent) and also average 74.4 points per game (No. 2 behind Wichita State). Under the right motivation, this is not a team the Shockers want to fall behind on or give any hopes of a close game.
Mike Burrus: All three games could be challenging. Without any detailed analysis behind my opinion, I am most concerned about the Loyola game by the process of elimination.
I just don’t think SIU has the ability to turn around the 42-point loss we handed them in Wichita (though I assume they’ll be at full force) and I don’t think the Shockers will lay an egg in their final regular season game against the Bears.
Though I am most concerned about the Loyola game, we have always taken care of business there, and I expect we will do so again this Sunday.
2. Which Shocker’s progress are you most pleased with?
Bryan Steele: I think I’ll go with (Conner) Frankamp. While his defense is significantly better this season, his shooting is solid and he takes care of the ball, the big growth is his swagger is back. I knew it during the Illinois State game when he received the ball in the corner, faked the pass to move the defender off of him, and proceeded to drill a dagger.
His aggressiveness is something this team needs, and with his 8-10 shots a game it really opens things up for the entire offense. Defenses really have to key on him.
Sasha Bouska: Conner Frankamp has played extremely well lately and has seemed very confident on the floor. He and Shaq Morris seems to be coming along the most as of late. It’s nice to see two veteran players continue to be able to show improvement late in their careers. Both will be big factors come March.
Sara Orr Jones: Zach Brown shuts ’em down! He’s one of the main glue guys who bonds our team together to get the win. Love his relentless, in-your-face defense.
David Gonzalez: Conner Frankamp. His aggressiveness has improved with every game. He’s becoming the offensive player every Shocker fan has been expecting to see. The Shockers will be very dangerous if he can continue this trend.
Loren Honse: (Zach) Brown and (Rashard) Kelly’s performance has really pleased me. They are putting in the time to defensively shut down the other teams best players. They both are taking on some of the best players in the country and just looking at the averages versus other teams is over the top impressive.
Patty Beamer: Rashard Kelly. He finally said, “I got tired of getting my shot blocked so I decided to just dunk the ball.” Right on!
Russell Lowden: (Rauno) Nurger has really stepped up his game.
Mike Burrus: Prior to the beginning of the Valley season, I made a statement “My biggest concern is the inability of Conner to consistently make the good shots he has been getting in recent games. I think he will play a huge role in the team’s ultimate success.” I stand by that earlier comment, and am absolutely thrilled that Conner has assumed a huge role in our recent wins. I certainly expect his contribution to continue through the rest of this season and next.
Joe Stroud: Shaq (Morris) starting at center has that scary defensive presence and his doubles doubles have taken pressure off Landry (Shamet) and (Markis) McDuffie.
3. Who is your go-to source for NCAA Tournament bracket analysis and projections?
Bryan Steele: I will check the updates on BracketMatrix.com, as it doesn’t depend on a single person making decisions. A cloud of data is always going to be more reliable. For fun I will check Joe Lunardi at ESPN for potential matchups and locations.
Sara Orr Jones: I check Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings regularly. It’s updated daily for all 351 Division I college basketball teams and does a comprehensive analysis involving all kinds of metrics and aspects of the games and teams.
David Gonzalez: I’ve always gone with Joe Lunardi of ESPN, although Andy Bottoms of The Assembly Call is a recent source I’ve been following. According to the Bracket Matrix, Andy is the highest ranked bracketologist in the world, and has been for quite some time.
While their sites don’t offer much of an analysis, Eammon Brennan of ESPN writes a weekly article on the “College Basketball Bubble Watch” that provides a thorough insight on tournament “locks” and “bubble teams.” It’s a good way of gauging the college basketball landscape for post-season play.
Loren Honse: Joe Lunardi from ESPN has been very close with all of his projections for the past couple of years. I believe after the Final Four run he has been more familiar with Wichita State and really has done a pretty decent job at the seeding projections.
Mike Burrus: Though he doesn’t always favor the Shockers’ prospects to make the tourney and consistently under-seeds them, I think ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has as good a track record as anyone. So, I pay attention to him throughout the year, even during the summer months when he occasionally puts out his “way too early projections.”
Joe Stroud: I pay more attention to Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology when it comes NCAA Tournament projections, he is very consistent and Lunardi is always usually spot on when it comes to Selection Sunday.