Wichita State Shockers: NCAA Tournament Profile

Ron Baker

Ron Baker and the Shockers have what it takes to win it all. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

1 Wichita State Shockers (34-0, 18-0 Missouri Valley)- Pick against the Shockers at your own peril. As the first team to navigate the regular season undefeated since UNLV in 1991, Wichita State, like a Vlade Divac jersey, commands respect.

At 34-0, the Shockers are without a doubt the most scrutinized team in the tournament. No, the Missouri Valley isn’t the Big 12 or the ACC, but it is a legitimate conference and Wichita State is a legitimate juggernaut. You don’t just get to the Final Four by accident. And you don’t run the table by accident.

Getty Images

Early is one of the best power forwards in the country. (Getty Images)

This is virtually the same squad that led Louisville for the majority of the game in the national semis last season, only more experienced. Four players average in double figures for the Shockers, led by NBA prospect and senior forward Cleanthony Early (6-8, 219 lbs).

Early leads the team in scoring (15.9 ppg) and rebounding (5.9 rpg), and is a major threat on the block. He’s as good a power forward as there is in the country, and could start for virtually any team in D-1. Sophomore guard Ron Baker (13.1 ppg, 3.1 apg, 3.6 rpg) is a tough, gritty guard who makes clutch shots and plays tremendous defense (1.5 spg). He’s a threat to knock down a big three late in a game, as he did last season in WSU’s upset of Gonzaga. Baker shoots the triple at 37%.

Fellow sophomore Fred Van Vleet has shown incredible toughness and guile, and at 5-11, is one of the better point guards in the nation. He’s also one of the most improved players in the country, averaging 12.1 points and 5.3 assists per game. He’s also a three-point threat and made some memorable shots in Wichita State’s upset of Gonzaga last season as well.

Junior guard Tekele Cotton (10.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg) is also dangerous, and can go off for 20 at any time. He’s also a terrific defender, averaging 1.4 steals per game. He went for 21 and 7 steals in a February win over Drake.

When considering whether to pick the Shockers to get upset early, think about this. Boston College was a pretty crappy team this season, and they beat Syracuse. Tennessee wasn’t all that, and they destroyed Virginia by 35. And Florida lost to a mediocre UConn team. Wichita State played plenty of teams as good as BC, Tennessee and UConn, and they beat them all.

The last time a team from a non-BCS conference went undefeated through 29 games, they received a lot of flak for getting a 1-seed. And that 2004 Saint Joseph’s squad went right out and proved it belonged by reaching the Elite Eight and coming within a John Lucas Jr. shot of the Final Four.

This Wichita State team is for real. Be warned.


Points per Possession 10th (1.13)

Points Allowed per Game 12th (59.6)

Rebounds per Game 17th (26.7)

Points Allowed per Possession 10th (0.9)

Team Stat Sheet


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