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2016 NCAA tournament preview: Wichita State Shockers

Wichita State Shockers

Record: 24-8 (16-2 Missouri Valley)

Head coach: Gregg Marshall (9th season)

Season Recap: The Cinderella finale for redshirt senior Ron Baker and the Shockers nearly ended before it began. Wichita State entered the Missouri Valley Conference tournament in St. Louis—affectionately known as Arch Madness—as the top seed, but was bounced by Northern Iowa in overtime of the semifinals, 57-52. That loss, coupled with a rocky start to the season during which the Shockers dropped four of their first six games, put head coach Gregg Marshall's squad squarely on the bubble, but the committee gave Wichita State a chance to play its way into the field of 68 with a trip to the First Four in Dayton.

The Shockers hang their hats on defense, allowing a nation-best 59.3 points per game. Baker—the squad's top scorer and rebounder with 14.2 points and 4.8 boards per contest—and point guard Fred Van Vleet have Final Four experience, and their grit makes Wichita State one of the toughest outs in the tournament. Marshall's squad enters the Big Dance having dropped just three games since Jan. 31, but will face an immediate test in the form of Vanderbilt for the right to play another veteran team, sixth-seeded Arizona, in Thursday's Round of 64.

How they make a run: In his last season wearing a Shocker uniform, Baker shines under the national spotlight and Wichita State’s experienced defense—which was plagued by injuries during the regular season—clamps down on opponents to make another Cinderella run.

How they falter: Van Vleet—a two-time Missouri Valley Player of the Year—is the only other Shocker joining Baker in double-figures, underscoring a Wichita State lineup that lacks offensive balance and a true consistent post threat, which could prove costly against the Wildcats' bigs in the Round of 64 if the Shockers can't hit their shots from the perimeter.


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