College basketball has an intense slate of games, and for some programs, the regular season ends today. Conference titles are on the line. Undefeated seasons are on the line. Even potential top seeds in the NCAA tournament are up for grabs during this college basketball weekend. Many teams have made a name for themselves in the college basketball power poll.
No.10 Northern Iowa Panthers (27-2, 16-1) vs. No.11 Wichita State Shockers (26-3, 16-1)
In the first meeting, Northern Iowa schooled the Shockers for a full 40 minutes. It was a perfect display of basketball, led by Seth Tuttle. Wichita State suffered their only conference loss to Northern Iowa in two seasons. The 16 point defeat was as thorough as any Panthers’ player and coach could have hoped for.
In this winner take all game, Wichita State has a lot to prove. Neither team has lost since then, so there’s a great chance that Saturday’s contest is only the second of three games this season.
The Panthers play a consistent, and fruitful brand of basketball that has balance across the board. Northern Iowa has so much balance, Tuttle is the only player averaging double figure points. Currently, Tuttle is at 15.6 points per game, and leads the team with 6.6 rebounds. He also shoots 62 percent from the field. However, Northern Iowa has seven other players that score between 5-8 points per game, and they all shoot over 40 percent from the field. It’s just hard to prepare for that type of balance.
Wichita State is paced by their guard rotation. Ron Baker leads the Shockers with 15.2 points per game, while Fred Van Vleet scores 12.4 points per game. Along with defensive demon, Tekele Cotton, the trio has been a mainstay for the Shockers over the last three seasons. Darius Carter also gives Wichita State 11.5 points per game in the post.
It’s imperative that Wichita State’s best players come to play well. The Shockers shot 35 percent in the first meeting, while Northern Iowa hit 60 percent of their shots. The biggest display of the mismatch came from the 3-point line. Wichita State made 5/24 shots from long range. They took too many, and the reason was due to Northern Iowa’s suffocating defense. Meanwhile, Northern Iowa made 5/7 3-pointers, and completely decimated Wichita State’s defense.
If the Shockers are unable to penetrate the defense this time around, they’ll have to find a way to make tough shots. On the season, two teams have scored more than 60 points in conference play against Northern Iowa. Both of those teams lost.