- Created: March 15th, 2016
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First Four | Shockers vs Commodores
By Don Phillips
[#11] WICHITA STATE SHOCKERS (24-8, 17-3 MVC) vs. [#11] VANDERBILT COMMODORES (19-13, 11-8 SEC)
NCAA Tournament | South Regional | First Four
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 | 8:10 p.m. CT (9:10 p.m. ET)
University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, Ohio
On Air: tru-TV
Announcers: Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas, Jamie Erdahl
Wichita: KEYN 103.7 FM
Announcers: Mike Kennedy & Dave Dahl
Announcers: Craig Way & Kevin Grevey
This will be the seventh tournament for Vanderbilt under head coach Kevin Stallings, who is the school’s all-time wins leader. The Commodores also appeared in the 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012 tournaments under Stallings, and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2004 and 2007. Vanderbilt also advanced to three consecutive NCAA tournaments from 2010-12 for the first time in school history.
The 11 SEC wins is the most the Commodores registered since the 12 they won in 2009-10, and the 15th time in program history a Vanderbilt team has recorded 11 or more league victories.
According to KenPom.com, Vanderbilt ranks 284th out of 351 teams when it comes to experience (1.35 years). The Commodores start two juniors and three sophomores. Despite the youth, the projected starting five has started a combined 333 games.
Nationally, Vanderbilt is third in 3FG defense at 29.2%, they also ranks 7th in FG% defense (38.6%), 9th in blocks (5.5), and 19th in 3FG% (38.8%).
The Commodores have faced Wichita State one other time in the program’s history, with that game coming on March 21, 2005, at Memorial Gym in the NIT, when Vanderbilt defeated the Shockers, 65-63, on a length-of-the-court pass and layup on the game’s final possession.
Led by All-American guards Ron Baker (14.2 points) and Fred VanVleet (12.0 points, 5.7 assists), the Shockers returned three starters and nine lettermen from last year’s 30-5 team that earned a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament and defeated Indiana and Kansas to reach the Sweet 16.
Helped by three-straight 30-win seasons, WSU earned its first preseason top-10 ranking since the 1981-82 season and was an overwhelming favorite in the MVC preseason poll. A rash of November injuries slowed their momentum, with four of the top six players missing a combined 24 games in the first two months, including VanVleet, who battled a hamstring strain through much of the non-conference.
After starting 5-5, the Shockers reeled off 12-straight wins on their way to the Valley title.
The Shockers lead the nation in scoring defense (59.3 ppg), rank 2nd in turnover margin (+5.5) and are 6th in field goal percentage defense (.385). They have been consistently tough to score on, holding opponents to less than 40% from the field in 18 of their last 22 games (since Dec. 22). Iowa is the only team that has shot better than 50% against WSU this year (.538 on Nov. 29).
Since Dec. 20, WSU has lost just three times (19-3). Two of those defeats came against a Northern Iowa team that beat Iowa State and North Carolina earlier this year before going into a three-week funk. UNI is currently receiving votes in both polls and earned the Missouri Valley Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
WSU’s only “bad loss” came on the road in a rivalry game against an Illinois State team that has been on the edge of the top-100 for most of the year.
Selection: Wichita State