Big win on Friday results in big matchup today. We've been talking about it since the brackets came out, and it turns out, so have the WSU fans. I reached out to Benjamin Miraski again over at Mid-Major Madness where they also cover the Missouri Valley Conference, and specifically the Wichita State Shockers. He was kind enough to turn around and answer a few more questions for us.
RCT: Wichita State is finally getting their chance to play the Jayhawks, and it's even for more than just bragging rights. Any chance they come into this game a little too hyped up and it affects their play?
MMM: I think there is every chance that they come into this game overhyped and it affects their play. I don't think there is any way it couldn't.
However, I do think that the Shockers will settle down in this one and get over that "Holy crap, we are finally playing Kansas feeling." I think the person it might affect the most would be Ron Baker because he always wanted to go to Kansas and felt a little snubbed by not getting there. He also didn't shoot well in the game against Indiana, although that might be because the Shockers hadn't played an actual game in two weeks after their loss to Illinois State in the MVC Tournament.
Gregg Marshall is not going to let this team lose focus though. If he senses that they are playing too tight against the Jayhawks, he will call timeout quickly and get their heads back in the game. It won't last long.
RCT: The general consensus coming into the tournament was that Wichita State was criminally under seeded. Do you agree, and if so, how much do you buy into the theory that this was intentional to set up this matchup?
MMM: I do believe that the committee underseeded both Wichita State and Northern Iowa. After seeing the Wichita State seed on Selection Sunday, I actually tweeted out that I was hoping it didn't signal a 5-seed for Northern Iowa, because I was worried they were going to be facing one of the other mid-major teams that would have been a dangerous matchup. Sure enough, a 5-seed, but against the Wyoming Cowboys.
I will say that if you look at all the tournament projections that were out there, you could see that it was hard to seed the Shockers. They ranged from a 4-seed to a 7-seed, but it seemed more like they were headed for a 5-seed.
You could see the same thing with the Atlantic 10 seeding, so it seemed more that the committee downplayed the achievements of those teams in conference compared to others.
If it had been just Wichita State that seemed screwed, I might have bought somewhat into the theory it was to set up this matchup. But given that so many teams were affected, and the committee had to deal with a late American final and a Big Ten final that went to overtime, I can't believe they did this on purpose. The pod system really doesn't help the conspiracy theories because it does place teams together with those that are close by. And it sets up matchups between teams that should have a lot of story between them because of that closeness.
But this is nothing more than random.
RCT:. All I hear about is Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker. But obviously there is more to this team than those two. Who else should Jayhawk fans be on the lookout for Sunday?
MMM: Tekele Cotton. He is the best defender on the team and he has the ability to get in the other team's head with how absolutely annoying he can be on defense. You will hate him and what he does against your guards. That said, he didn't do a great job of keeping up with Yogi Ferrell when the Shockers played Indiana, which was just shocking. There are not many players that can say that Cotton can't cover them.
Inside it is Darius Carter. I am hoping that his cousin Lebron James called him after the Indiana game to give him some tips on matching up with the Kansas big men. The biggest issue that Wichita State has is that they are very young after Carter, so if he gets in foul trouble you aren't going to see the same skill level replace him. The Shockers worked hard to try and better their depth as the season wound down, but it never got to a level where you would feel great about it. It probably won't do much against Kansas.
RCT: Which Jayhawk is going to be the hardest matchup for the Shockers tomorrow?
MMM: Given what I just said about the interior depth and Carter's tendency to get in foul trouble, I am going to go with Perry Ellis. He isn't the kind of big man that the Shockers see very often and he can't be goaded into bad moves like some of the opponents for Wichita State.
Just look at how they did against Illinois State in the MVC Tournament and you can watch what a good big man can do to them.
RCT: Prediction time: Does Wichita State come out on fire and get Jayhawk fans concerned early? Do they have enough to move on to the Sweet 16?
MMM: I think it is going to take some time for Wichita State to get its rhythm, so the most important thing for Kansas is probably going to be establishing a lead early. The Shockers always seem to pull off a run of about five minutes where they can do no wrong on offense and defense. It is their signature move, and often comes sometime at the beginning of the second half. If the Jayhawks can have a lead that makes it hard for that five minutes to undo them, Wichita State won't be able to come back.
I am going to go with Kansas on this one, 70-62
RCT: BONUS - You should feel special, not many get to take part in the same bonus question multiple times. It's time to add again to our potluck, but this time we need a dish coming from Wichita State. What do you have for us?
MMM: I think we might be in for a BBQ fight. We could always bring along some Pig In! Pig Out!, but how about this instead. We will grab some brews from River City Brewing and Wichita Brewing Company, enough to share. Sound good?
So there you have it, the first person to get to participate in AoC twice in a row. A special thanks to him for taking the time in short succession to help us out. Since I just talked to him a few days ago, there aren't any new questions for me to answer, but feel free to review the questions I answered last time.