Wichita State’s week in the spotlight continues with individual awards on Tuesday and moves quickly to the three biggest games of the season in St. Louis.
With college basketball’s high-profile conferences wrapping up regular-season play, the NCAA at-large cases for WSU and Illinois State will take center stage this weekend in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Their resumes will create much debate, especially if one loses before Sunday’s title game.
On Monday, Wichita State rose four spots to No. 21 in the Associated Press poll. It is No. 22 in the USA Today coaches poll, up three spots.
On Tuesday, All-MVC teams and individual awards are announced.
The Shockers will earn plenty of those honors, starting with freshman guard Landry Shamet and sophomore forward Markis McDuffie as likely first-team selections. Junior guard Conner Frankamp and junior center Shaq Morris are also likely in line for a spot on one of the three All-MVC teams.
Shamet, who earned MVC player and newcomer of the week honors on Sunday, is expected to win Freshman of the Year. His play during WSU’s 12-game win streak moved him into the conversation for Player of the Year.
“He’s a hard, hard worker,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “Once we handed him the ball in early to mid-January, to assume the role as point guard, I think he just took off and is, arguably, the best player in the league from that point forward.”
Shamet, from Kansas City, Mo., scored a career-high 23 points in Saturday’s win at Missouri State, also matching his career-high with eight rebounds and handing out five assists. In that 12-game streak, he averages 12.5 points, 3.6 assists and 2.5 rebounds. He hasn’t committed more than one turnover in 10 of those 12 games.
He is 29 of 50 from three-point range (58 percent) in that span, 51 of 86 (59.3 percent) from the field.
WSU and Illinois State (25-5), who shared the MVC title, finished eight games ahead of anyone else in the Valley. That margin should be reflected in individual awards ranging from All-MVC to All-Bench.
Illinois State senior Paris Lee is also regarded as a Player of the Year candidate. He averages 13.0 points and leads the MVC at 5.1 assists and 2.0 steals.
“I know there’s multiple deserving guys for each award,” Redbirds coach Dan Muller said. “I’ve got three, four, five guys that I hope can win awards and get on certain teams.”
On Thursday, the MVC Tournament starts with play-in games.
On Friday, top-seeded Illinois State and second-seeded WSU play.
Both are NCAA Tournament at-large candidates who will feel nervous about inclusion in the bracket should they lose in St. Louis. Both teams will attract national attention this week as media and fans evaluate their worthiness for the tournament and their spot in the at-large pool of 36 teams.
“I certainly will address it, because it’s going to be addressed with them with their families and on social media and other avenues,” Muller said. “I’m not going to ignore it. I just don’t want to make it a focus. We want to play really good basketball Friday.”
The Shockers (27-4) received 250 points to rise from No. 25 a week ago, their debut spot in the AP poll this season.
No. 21 is WSU’s highest ranking since it was No. 9 in the AP second poll of the 2015-16 season. The Shockers fell out two weeks later before returning in January and peaking at No. 21.
The Shockers started this season receiving votes. They moved to No. 25 with 153 points a week ago.
MVC honors for WSU — Women’s basketball player Angiee Tompkins was named MVC player of the week.
Tompkins, a junior forward, averaged 16.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in wins over Indiana State and Loyola. She made 14 of 22 shots.
▪ Junior lefty Cody Tyler was named MVC pitcher of the week.
Tyler struck out a career-high nine and walked two in a 4-0 win over Grand Canyon. He allowed three singles in his six innings.
▪ Senior Katie Malone earned softball pitcher of the week honors after throwing 29 1/3 of WSU’s 32 innings in the Texas-Arlington Invitational.
She compiled a 0.95 ERA with three complete games and two shutouts.
The Top Twenty Five
The top 25 teams in The Associated Press’ college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 26, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and previous ranking
1. Kansas (58)
2. Villanova (2)
3. UCLA (3)
4. Gonzaga (2)
5. North Carolina
10. West Virginia
15. Florida St.
19. Notre Dame
20. Saint Mary’s (Cal)
21. Wichita St.
24. Iowa St.
Others receiving votes: Minnesota 66, Oklahoma St. 54, Dayton 32, Michigan 14, Middle Tennessee 13, Creighton 12, Southern Cal 7, Monmouth (NJ) 3, Michigan St. 3, Vermont 2, Virginia Tech 2, VCU 2, Arkansas 1, BYU 1, Maryland 1, Princeton 1.