▪ Regular-season meetings: WSU 67-55 J14 at Koch Arena; WSU 84-62 F17 at SIU Arena.
▪ No. 1 seeds are perfect in their first game at the MVC Tournament and there seems to be little danger of this No. 1 seed blowing that streak. The Shockers rarely overlook opponents and against over-matched SIU it wouldn’t necessarily be fatal, anyway.
In 2012, WSU defeated Indiana State 72-48. Last season, it handled Evansville 80-58. Since WSU moved out of the play-in games, it is 5-0 with an average margin of victory of 16 points in its opener. There is a school of thought that the Thursday team gets an early advantage because it played the night before. There is no evidence that’s a significant factor and fatigue probably evens things out by the second half.
▪ Rest is important to the Shockers, who can’t count on going much more than six or seven deep. I would look for coaches to sub early with a comfortable lead and try to get the starters off their feet ASAP. Illinois State, should it advance, and Northern Iowa, should it advance, are the deepest teams in the MVC and they can be counted on to try to wear down the Shockers on Saturday and Sunday, should those matchups materialize.
▪ WSU’s defense on SIU G Anthony Beane has been top-notch this season. Beane is the one player who should scare the Shockers and they will no doubt make him a priority again with several defenders. Tekele Cotton will take most of the work, of course. In two games against WSU, Beane is 8 for 24 from the field, 1 for 9 from three-point range with 24 points, four assists and three turnovers. Freshman G Deion Lavender is a rising talent who shot and scored better in MVC games. In two games against WSU, he is 11 of 22, 2 of 6 with 30 points.
▪ SIU F Bola Olaniyan largely fell out of the rotation until he played 25 solid minutes against WSU on Feb. 17. He grabbed seven rebounds and scored four points. WSU’s size kills the Salukis and Olaniyan is one player who can help. Since that game, his playing time is up and down. He figures to get a good shot against the Shockers.
▪ SIU out-rebounded WSU in both meetings (34-30 and 31-27). The Salukis scored 16 second-chance points at home.
▪ In the first meeting, WSU’s Darius Carter made 11 of 15 shots and scored 25 points. In the second game, SIU sold out to stop him and the Shockers made 10 of 19 three-pointers. Shaq Morris scored a career-high 17 points, making 7 of 8 shots, off the bench. SIU lacks the height to stop Carter and Morris and doubling them leaves good shooters free to fire away.