2011 NIT FINAL FOUR: WSU Vs. Wichita State Preview

What we thought was settled back in the summer of 2009 during the NCAA Baseball Tournament has reared its ugly head once again.  The Shockers of Wichita State have come back to try and usurp the title as "One True WSU" from our beloved Washington State Cougars.

Let us not waste the efforts of Donnie Marbut's boys.  New Yorkers need to know who owns the acronym.

When the Shockers have the ball...

Wichita State is among the best inside the three point line.  They are 11th in the nation with a 52.9 two point percentage.  The Shockers have a stable full of efficient bigs to throw at the Cougs, led by J.T. Durley and his 112.5 offensive rating.  That rating might be even more impressive considering Durley does not get to the free throw line very often, post just a 28.2 free throw rate.

On the outside, the most dangerous threat is junior David Kyles.  He shoots almost 40% from three and takes a lot of them (183 on the year).  Ben Smith is also an intriguing player, as he has an absolutely ridiculous 131.3 offensive rating (7th in the country) built on 40% from three and 67.2% on twos.

Wichita State poses a threat on the offensive glass, as they are 63rd in offensive rebounding percentage.  Gabe Blair is the biggest culprit, gathering 11.7% of his team's misses.

Washington State may have the ability to slow the Shocker offense down, because they are very good at defending two-point shots.  The Cougs allowed opponents to knock just 45.1% of their shots inside the arc.  Wazzu will have to lock down the interior, in defending shots and preventing offensive boards, to limit the Wichita State offense in this match-up.

When the Cougs have the ball...

The Shockers have been able to defend well in large part to their ability to secure opponent's misses.  Led by the aforementioned Blair's ridiculous 26.4 DR%, Wichita State is 4th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage allowed.  Luckily, this should not have a huge impact on the WSU offense, because they do not rely much on the offensive rebound.

What may hinder the Cougs is the Shockers' ability to defend two-pointers almost as well as they score them.  Wichita State has limited opponents to 44.1% shooting inside the three point line.  Twos have been the bread and butter for Washington State for much of the year, and they will need to buck the trend of Shocker opponents to do well.

Wichita State won't force WSU into many turnovers, so WSU needs to capitalize by knocking down open looks.

Overall...

This game should be a close one.  KenPom has it as a toss-up, giving Wichita State the slight edge predicting a 70-69 win with 54% confidence.

The Shockers will play a whole lot of guys in this game.  There isn't a single player on the team that has played more than 65% of the minutes.  Can Washington State's mostly seven-man rotation keep up against fresh legs in what should be a close game down the stretch?

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