The Shockers of Wichita State take on the Central Florida Knights tonight. Tipoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. ET on CFE Arena court in Orlando. College Basketball Free Pick: Wichita State -9 over UCF.
It has been difficult to trust the Shockers at any point this season. Despite returning five starters the team has been, at best, pedestrian on the defensive end of the floor. Tonight’s contest in Central Florida offers significant favor to the Shockers. It also assists them in their aim to secure an American Athletic Conference title in their first season in the league.
Coach Gregg Marshall had the luxury of not using his starters for excessive minutes in the squads latest win over shorthanded SMU. Tonight’s game against offensively challenged UCF is not a look-ahead game by any means. WSU meets No #10 Cincinnati on Sunday and tonight’s early tip is a must win for Wichita as they trail the Bearcats by one game with two to play. Cincy is a double-digit favorite tonight versus Tulane.
Tonight’s event against UCF is much like the Shockers last test in Dallas versus SMU. The Mustangs, like the Knights, are without key player personnel and are shorthanded in a late regular season matchup. Shaquille Morris is the steady hand for the Wheat Shockers. Guard Landry Shamet (team-high 14.6 points, ACC-leading 5.1 assists per game) recorded 10 points and four assists versus SMU in a game he was still feeling the effects of a flu bug.
The X-factor tonight for the Shockers versus the Knights is two-fold. Firstly, without center Tacko Fall the Central Florida squad is short-benched and unable to defend the rim. Fall suffered a shoulder injury in late January and is out for the remainder of the season. And the second big game variable in this matchup is on the shoulders of Markis McDuffie. The 6’8″ forward had a stellar campaign in the Mo Valley a year ago. After scuffling with his consistency early this season, and missing the first month-plus of the regular slate to injury, McDuffie has found his mojo. The WSU big scored a total of 41 points in the team’s two games last week.
Wichita State is 8-2 on the road this season. They have stepped up in their road events with wins over nationally ranked Cincinnati and then-No #16 Baylor.
With Tacko Fall UCF was a defensive monster. The school ranked third in the country in fewest points (61.2) allowed per game and could rebound with any team in Division I. Without Fall it is more than likely that the Shockers will own the glass. Wichita State is one of the nation’s best in rebounding margin (third at plus-10.2).
College Basketball Free Pick: Wichita State -9 over UCF
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