Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 7:00 PM
We’re doing what we can to include mentions of Wichita State and Northern Iowa in our college basketball coverage this season. That’s tough because they play in the Missouri Valley Conference…and the MVC is REALLY weak this season once you get past the Big Two.
Wichita State hosts Evansville Sunday afternoon. Evansville entered the weekend in third place in the MVC…so this is about as good as it’s going to get for any game when Wichita and Northern aren’t playing each other! The problem is…Evansville only ranks #131 in Ken Pomeroy’s national computer ratings. That’s how bad the MVC is this year…you can be in a tie for third place while not being one of the best 125 teams in the country!
Handicappers need to keep Wichita State and Northern Iowa on the radar. It’s not like we’re talking about potential #11 or #12 seeds in the Dance who might spring an upset…or potential #8 or #9 seeds who might give a top seed a scare over the first weekend (Wichita State stunned Gonzaga in this bracket spot not too long ago). This year, both Wichita State and Northern Iowa are currently projected to be #4 seeds. They’re bracketed to reach the Sweet 16.
We’ve talked a lot about a lot of major programs in TV previews recently. Pomeroy has the MVC pairing rated better than teams like North Carolina, Louisville, Iowa State, and Baylor. Both would rate second in the Big 10 behind Wisconsin. Learn what you can about these teams because at least one of them is likely to matter in March.
Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about Sunday’s game with Evansville.
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
Evansville: 102.7 per 100 possessions (#150 in the nation)
Wichita State: 113.8 per 100 possessions (#17 in the nation)
A mismatch here…which is often the case for the Shockers against the rest of the MVC. If you watch the game, you’ll see a smart patient offense that gets good shots. They’re not quite as slow or efficient as a team like Wisconsin. But, they have that kind of basketball smarts. Evansville is inept by major conference standards…so it’s a big strike against the MVC that this team might finish in the top four.
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
Evansville: 100.0 per 100 possessions (#132 in the nation)
Wichita State: 93.6 per 100 possessions (#35 in the nation)
Here’s the question for handicappers thinking about the tournament. If Wichita State grades out as #35 playing a mostly mid-major schedule…what’s it going to look like when they step up in class? Pomeroy adjusts for strength of schedule and pace. But, he often misses the mark in terms of truly capturing class differences (which you’ve seen in the past with Gonzaga, or even Belmont a few years ago). If Wichita State is destined to be a pretender…it will because of what happens on this side of the ball vs. a major conference opponent.
Wichita State: #288
Evansville pushes tempo a bit, which makes sense if you have a horrible halfcourt offense. You’re only chance to score is before the other team gets set. Wichita State is slow, and will likely impose that kind of game on its home floor Sunday. Evansville is looking like blowout fodder because their poor defense will give up easy buckets, while their poor offense will struggle to score out of the halfcourt.
Against the Spread
Wichita State: 13-11-1
Both teams have been slight money-makers this season. That’s more impressive for Wichita State because they were highly regarded entering the season. They don’t get any breaks in the Vegas line. And, they certainly aren’t getting any breaks Sunday with the high number you’re seeing.
It’s too early to say whether this game will show up as part of the Sunday package. There are more competitive matchups on the card (just few involving potential #4 Dance seeds!). And, with the NBA back in session, every day is a busy day in the baskets!
You’ll be able to purchase the final word for Sunday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 Sunday morning before the early games tip off. This is a great time to get everything set up for basketball through March Madness or the NBA Playoffs in June.
Back with you tomorrow for Big Monday on ESPN. We’ll be looking at several more showcase teams here in the final week of February. You know what that means…MARCH IS ALMOST HERE! Here’s the tentative NOTEBOOK schedule for the next seven days.
Monday: College Basketball…Louisville at Georgia Tech in the ACC
Tuesday: College Basketball…Wisconsin at Maryland in the Big 10
Wednesday: College Basketball…Baylor at Iowa State in the Big 12
Thursday: NBA Special…Golden State at Cleveland on TNT
Friday: Early Look…Syracuse at Duke or Texas at Kansas
Saturday: College Basketball…Arizona at Utah in the Pac 12
Sunday: College Basketball…Michigan State at Wisconsin in the Big 10
Given what you saw of Golden State and Cleveland in their first games back from the All-Star Break, that Thursday NBA special might be a championship series preview! Wisconsin/ Maryland and Arizona/Utah could be conference tournament championship previews as well. BIG games…BIG plays…BIG money…from PROVEN BIG WINNER JIM HURLEY!
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