All they have to do is pull off the 12-point upset in front of 10,500 opposing fans rooting for ranked Wichita State at Koch Arena on Tuesday night under the ESPN2 lights. No. 11 Wichita State is coming off a home blowout win of their own, an 81-52 pasting of Saint Louis that like Seton Hall-Rutgers, was essentially over after ten minutes. The Shockers dropped a few spots from No. 8 to No. 11 earlier today after losing in overtime at ranked Utah last week.
For Seton Hall, winning at Koch Arena (AKA The Roundhouse to some) would be the first time a non-conference team has done so since VCU's Final Four team won 68-67 in February of 2011. The win was one of the main reasons why I had VCU in my bracket (they were a bubble team) that year despite so many railing against them. It was a barometer of being able to win away from home against a high-quality opponent.
Wichita State is 52-3 at home since that game.
Scouting Wichita State:
One of Wichita State's bigger weaknesses and something that hurt them in their loss at Utah is three-point defense. The Shockers rank 264th in the nation and gave up several clutch threes due to quick Utes ball movement in the second half. Utah shot 9-21 from beyond that arc in that game. Sterling Gibbs' added outside threat bodes well if Jaren Sina and Isaiah Whitehead are moving the ball around tomorrow.
Gregg Marshall's team has the 23rd-lowest turnover rate and have the 22nd-best defensive turnover rate (what they have held their opponents to TO%-wise) compared to Seton Hall's 159th and 88th. This may be strongly correlated to Wichita State's 285th-quickest tempo, which Kevin Willard will likely seek to exploit similar to Rutgers on Saturday. The Pirates purposely increased the pace of the game, something that Rutgers isn't suited for.
Junior guard Ron Baker (18-36, 50%) is Wichita State's primary outside shooter with shifty point guard Fred Van Vleet (51-21, 24%) in a slump; Van Vleet's percentage is down from 41% (37-90) last season. Freshman guard Ria'n Holland (4.3 ppg) can come off the bench and surprise defenses like he did against Utah (2-4 3pt).
Baker is a long, high-energy shooting guard that will drill most outside shots if given the space. He plays along a quick Fred Van Vleet that is one of the best when his complete game is on. Until he breaks out of his shooting slump -Utah was letting him take threes - his main strength is blow-by quickness.
6-foot-4 glue guy Evan Wessel (5.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg) starts for Wichita State, but Tekele Cotton (10.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.8 apg) sees the majority of time as Gregg Marshall's three-guard, shifting Wessel down to the four in a small lineup. Power forward Darius Carter (10.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg) plays inside for Wichita State. Carter found himself in foul trouble early against Utah, and the Shockers looked susceptible on the interior as a result. A pair of 6-foot-7 freshmen in Shaq Morris (4.5 ppg, 3 rpg) and Rashard Kelly (2.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg) tend to fill in off the bench at the four or five.
Three things to watch for:
Darius Carter v. Angel Delgado. Carter has only logged over 20 minutes in a game once this season but has looked effective when on the court. If Delgado can draw fouls and affect his game by crashing the offensive glass, Seton Hall will benefit like Utah did last week. 6-foot-6 Desi Rodriguez should have a height advantage on his defender for most of the game tomorrow night and will also be required to pull in rebounds alongside Delgado.
An epic guard battle. Sterling Gibbs versus Fred Van Vleet. Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton against Isaiah Whitehead and Jaren Sina. This is going to be fun. Gibbs will probably go against the quick Van Vleet while Whitehead will pick up the more physical player of Baker and Cotton.
Home court advantage. This is the first true road test for most of Seton Hall's team and a daunting one at that. Only Gibbs, Sina, and Brandon Mobley have significant road experience, raising the question if Steph Manga may see a few more minutes, at least early on. The freshmen have passed the neutral court test and received an A+ in their first rivalry game, let's see how they handle the noise tomorrow night.
KenPom says: No. 7 Wichita State - 70, No. 51 Seton Hall - 60 (13%)
Projected Wichita State starters:
PG - Fred Van Vleet
G - Ron Baker
G - Evan Wessel
G - Tekele Cotton
PF - Darius Carter
Time: 7pm, Tuesday
Radio: 970 AM
Opening line: Wichita State (-12.5)