Highlights of the week ahead:
▪ Wichita State (5-4) travels to the Prudential Center to play Seton Hall (8-2) on Saturday (11 a.m., Fox). The Pirates offer the Shockers one last chance to grab a non-conference victory with the potential to help in March.
Seton Hall defeated Saint Peter’s 72-46 on Sunday. Its resume is mixed, with wins over uninspired Georgia, Rutgers and Mississippi teams and losses to Long Beach State and a strong George Washington team.
Seton Hall averages an attendance of 5,292 at the Prudential Center, which seats 18,500 for basketball and is also home to the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. The Devils play at home Saturday night, which explains the early tip.
Tim Brando and Jim Jackson will call the game for Fox.
This is, for TV trivia buffs, the first national over-the-air appearance on a major network for an MVC school since WSU’s 93-92 loss at BYU on Jan. 28, 1989, broadcast by CBS.
▪ WSU women’s team (1-6) plays Eastern Washington (5-4) on Tuesday (7:05 p.m., ESPN3), Prairie View A&M (4-1) on Friday (7:05 p.m., ESPN3) and North Carolina A&T (3-6) on Saturday (3 p.m., ESPN3).
▪ The Shockers — no hyperbole — turned their season around with a 56-50 win over UNLV on Wednesday and Saturday’s 67-50 win over No. 25 Utah at Intrust Bank Arena.
Both appear to be NCAA-quality opponents, although I’ll leave open the possibility that UNLV drops a bit. And the fact Utah’s best win is over Texas Tech concerns me, as does its 21.5 margin of defeat in losses to Miami and WSU.
The Shockers did what they had to do and it’s likely the NCAA selection committee will look favorably on the contrast between the VanVleet Shockers of December and the VanVleet-less Shockers of November.
WSU stats in the past three games with Fred VanVleet (and in the previous three in the AdvoCare Invitational):
51 points allowed (73.3)
41.9 percent shooting allowed (47 percent)
43.2 percent shooting (34 percent)
7.0 turnovers (12.0)
14.6 assists (11.6)
The Shockers improved to 6-0 at Intrust Bank Arena and using that venue has been a significant bonus WSU. Fans seem to love it, despite some ticketing issues, and it is growing into a December tradition.
In the six previous seasons, WSU played its first- or second-best RPI non-conference opponent twice (No. 27 Southern Miss in 2012 and No. 37 Tennessee in 2013) and its first- or second-best RPI non-conference opponent outside of holiday tournaments twice (No. 84 Tulsa in 2010 and No. 115 UAB in 2011).
Tennessee is the only IBA opponent to make the NCAA Tournament. Two — UAB and Saint Louis in 2014 — finished with losing records.
Seton Hall beat writer follow:
Around the MVC:
A season that started with reasonable optimism is slumping toward a major disappointment.
The MVC is 41-48 against NCAA Division I opponents after Sunday’s 1-3 record.
WSU, even with injuries accounted for, takes some of that hit. Injuries happen. Teams deal with them well, or they don’t. The Shockers did not.
Northern Iowa hasn’t gained ground since knocking off No. 1 North Carolina, although losses at Richmond and New Mexico are “quality” defeats. A season-opening loss at home to Colorado State looks worse since the Rams dropped four of their past five games, including at Northern Colorado.
The Panthers aren’t done with good opponents. They play Iowa State in Des Moines and in the Diamond Head Classic. It opens with Hawaii and could play Oklahoma in the second round in Honolulu.
Illinois State, picked second in the MVC, is 3-6 with an RPI ranked No. 189 by warrennolan. The Redbirds played a tough schedule, which doesn’t excuse losses to South Dakota State, TCU and UAB.
Four Valley schools (Indiana State, Drake, Bradley, Missouri State) are No. 220 or worse in the RPI.
Monday’s reading recommendation:
From the New York Times: Seton Hall’s Braeden Anderson is a law student, who says “See, the facts are pretty straightforward. But the legal analysis is actually pretty tricky.”