Sharp-shooting Joe Ragland leads a dangerous Wichita St. squad
Meet The Shockers:
F Ben Smith – Senior, 6’5 – 9.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG
C Garrett Stutz – Senior, 7’0 – 14.1 PPG, 7.9 RPG
G Joe Ragland – Senior, 6’0 – 13.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.4 APG
G Toure’ Murry – Senior, 6’5 – 12.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.3 APG
G Demetric Williams – Junior, 6’2- 5.4 PPG, 2.4 APG
F Carl Hall – Junior, 6’8 – 9.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG
G David Kyles – Senior, 6’4 – 8.8 PPG, 3.5 APG
Where They Rank:
AP – 19th Coaches – 19th RPI – 16th KenPom – 8th Sagarin – 10th
There are a few things you look for in a possible mid-major party crasher: experience, strong guard play, sharp-shooters, solid defense and an interior presence. Wichita State has all these things and more. In fact, the Shockers might have the best portfolio, from a statistical perspective, of any mid-major team in the last decade.
The Shockers have excelled on both sides of the ball this season. They rank eighth in offensive efficiency and 25th in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. In comparison, only seven other teams (Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan State, Kansas, Syracuse, North Carolina and Marquette) rank in the top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency this season.
Wichita’s success on offense can be explained by their high shooting percentages and their ability to take care of the ball. The Shockers rank 10th in two-point field goal percentage, 57th in three-point field goal percentage, 12th in effective field goal percentage* and 38th in turnover percentage. The Shockers have excelled on defense by allowing a low field goal percentage (43rd in effective field goal percentage allowed) and few second chances (9th in offensive rebounding percentage allowed).
*Effective field goal takes into account the extra value of a made three-pointer.
According to KenPom, the Shockers are the third most experienced team in the nation, and most likely, they’ll be the most experienced team in the NCAA tournament since Lamar and Nebraska are ranked first and second. Of the Shockers’ main rotation of seven, five players are seniors and two are juniors.
While Wichita hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2006 – before any of their current members were on the team – the Shockers won the NIT last season. In my eyes, the squad gained more tourney experience from that run to Madison Square Garden than they would have from a loss in the first round of the NCAAs.
Led by seniors Joe Ragland and Toure’ Murry, the Shockers have the type of backcourt that long tournament runs are made of. The sharp-shooting Ragland has been one of the best, most-efficient guards in the nation this season. The senior has an effective field goal percentage of 67.0 (5th in the nation), a true shooting percentage of 70.0 (2nd in the nation) and an offensive rating of 127.3 (25th in the nation).* In comparison, sweet-shooting Steph Curry had a 60.7 effective field goal percentage and 64.0 true shooting percentage in 2008, the year he took Davidson to the elite eight.
*True Shooting Percentage is like effective field goal percentage but throws in trips to the line and converts it to a shooting percentage that approximates what two-point field percentage a player would need to have to score the points he produces on all his shooting attempts. Offensive Rating is a measure of personal offensive efficiency. Explanations from KenPom.
The Shockers also have a solid interior presence, led by 7-footer Garrett Stutz. As mentioned earlier, Wichita allows very few second chances on defense, ranking 9th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage allowed. A lot of that can be attributed to the strong defensive rebounding ability of Stutz. The senior center has a defensive rebound percentage of 26.4, which ranks 17th in the nation. Stutz also does a nice job on the offensive glass, grabbing 9.4 percent of his offensive rebounding opportunities. Stutz also uses his size to take a good number of high-percentage shots and he converts on them, posting an effective field goal percentage of 60.1 and a true shooting percentage of 64.2.
The Shockers will be under-seeded in the NCAA Tournament, most likely receiving a four or five seed, while their statistical profile deems them worthy of a two or three seed. Don’t sleep on the Shockers in March, and don’t be surprised if they follow in the footsteps of George Mason, Butler and VCU by making it all the way to the Final Four.