Highlights of the week ahead:
▪ Wichita State plays Southern Cal (3-0) in the Advocare Invitational on Thursday (1 p.m., ESPN2) in Orlando, Fla. Alabama (2-1) or Xavier (3-0) await on Friday (11 a.m./1:30 p.m.).
The eight-team field brings a cumulative record of 21-3. In a field of recognizable names, Monmouth owns the most eye-popping win — 84-81 (OT) at UCLA. Xavier’s 86-70 win at Michigan is impressive in a different way.
According to Ken Pomeroy, four teams rank inside the top 25 — No. 19 Notre Dame, No. 20 Iowa, No. 22 Xavier and No. 24 Wichita State. The Irish are the top offensive team, with an efficiency ranked fourth nationally. Iowa’s defense is No. 21.
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The Shockers are a 63-percent favorite to beat the Trojans, but that’s a small-sample-size projection, especially with Fred VanVleet’s injury hanging over the team.
▪ Shockers volleyball takes the No. 1 seed in the MVC Tournament to Springfield, Mo. for Friday’s semifinal (5 p.m., ESPN3) against either No. 4 Northern Iowa or No. 5 Illinois State.
WSU swept Northern Iowa in both meetings. It defeated the Redbirds 3-1 and 3-2.
▪ WSU women’s basketball team plays Richmond on Friday (1 p.m.) in the FIU Thanksgiving Classic in Miami. WSU (0-3) is averaging 43.7 points and shooting 36.4 percent from the field in losses to Creighton, Missouri and Arkansas State.
Richmond (3-0) is picked sixth in the Atlantic 10 after playing in the WNIT last season. Florida International or Marquette are on tap for Sunday.
▪ How far will the No. 9 Shockers (2-1) fall in the rankings? They are a mystery, with no significant wins, a 77-67 loss at Tulsa and VanVleet’s injury. I expect to see them around No. 15. Five top-10 teams lost last week. Four teams ranked below WSU lost.
▪ Shockers volleyball took a beating from Southern Illinois on Friday. It bounced back to sweep Evansville and Missouri State helped out by beating the Salukis on Saturday. WSU won its sixth MVC title, all under coach Chris Lamb and all since 2004. With an RPI in the 30s, the Shockers look solid for an NCAA at-large bid, if needed.
The MVC Tournament remains a source of frustration for Lamb. WSU has two tournament titles, 2004 and 2013.
Did you know Lamb hasn’t won MVC Coach of the Year since 2008? He might not win it this year, either. Southern Illinois’ Justin Ingram took a team picked fourth to second place and swept the Shockers.
▪ Credit WSU women’s coach Jody Adams with bold scheduling. Creighton, Missouri and Arkansas State are a combined 9-0 and No. 4 Tennessee awaits on Nov. 11.
▪ Former WSU men’s basketball assistant Steve Forbes picked up a strong win in his debut season at East Tennessee State. The Bucs won 69-68 at Georgia Tech on Sunday.
Around the MVC:
Northern Iowa’s win over No. 1 North Carolina will get all the attention, and rightfully so. The Panthers (2-1) are right back in at-large consideration and they won without sophomore forward Klint Carlson, a rotation player (and UNI’s best post scorer) who was suspended for three games.
Games against Richmond, New Mexico and Iowa State remain.
However, let’s give Southern Illinois and coach Barry Hinson a high five for a 4-0 start. Little is expected of the Salukis and the start includes a win over Kent State, picked second in the MAC East Division.
Evansville, No. 65 in Pomeroy’s rankings, faces a season-defining tournament starting Thursday. If the Aces want to build an NCAA at-large resume, beating Providence in the Wooden Legacy seems crucial. Win, and the Aces likely face Arizona and the menu of final-day opponents is better.
A loss means a likely date with Santa Clara, and Steve Nash ain’t walking through that door.
Providence is Evansville’s highest-ranked non-conference opponent (No. 59 at kenpom.com), although Arkansas (104), Murray State (161) and Fresno State (86) remain. The Aces can build some buzz with a good showing in Anaheim, Calif., this week.
Monday’s reading recommendation:
Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shares a Gary Pinkel story with a personal touch.