NCAA Basketball Pick: Wichita State -5 over Tulsa

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

The 14th ranked Wichita State Shockers face their first road test of the season after four double-digit home wins, and their vastly superior defense should carry them past Tulsa.

The ranked road favorite has the defense and the experience to pass its first road test Wednesday night when those Wichita State Shockers (4-0, 0-0 away) pay a visit to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (0-2, 0-1 home) at the Donald Reynolds Center in Tulsa, OK at 8:00 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Wichita State as a road favorite for this contest with the current line at -5 with odds of -117.

Wichita State made a dream run to the Final Four last season and even gave the eventual National Champions from Louisville a battle while losing just 72-68 in the semis. Perhaps most importantly, Coach Gregg Marshall’s team went 11-deep with that many players averaging at least 10 minutes per game, so the Shockers are actually very experience despite losing three starters from that squad, helping lead to a 4-0 start with an AMOV of +22.8 points.

Tulsa has a much younger team that is currently starting four sophomores and just one senior, and as often happens with young teams, the Golden Hurricane can run the floor and score points well but they have treated defense as an afterthought so far this young season. That is a serious problem here vs. a Wichita State team that has its lofty ranking for a reason, as it is solid at both ends of the court.

Granted Wichita State has not faced a difficult schedule to this point with an SOS ranked a poor 314th through four games, but then again the Shockers really do not have much to prove since Coach Marshall basically already knows what he has. Last year’s leading scorer Cleanthony Early joins Tekele Cotton as the returning starters and two other current starters Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker were among the players getting major minutes off the bench last year.

The only starter expanding on what was a more limited role last season is Chadrack Lufile, and while the 6-foot-9 senior has offensive limitations, he has been fulfilling his role as a large defensive presence in the frontcourt.

Besides the veterans, do not forget that the Shockers also boast the 10th ranked JUCO recruit in the country entering the season in Darius Carter, the cousin of LeBron James, coming off the bench and thus far providing 5.3 points and 3.8 rebounds over an average of 14 minutes per game. Add this all up and you have a team that is ranked a well-balanced 53rd in adjusted offensive efficiency and 42nd in defensive efficiency in the early going.

Tulsa is off to an 0-2 start mainly due to allowing a distressing 85.0 points per game and getting killed on the glass, ranking 316th in the land in offensive rebounding percentage and 313th in defensive rebounding percentage. It has not helped that the Golden Hurricane have not been forcing turnovers either, ranking 223rd in defensive turnover percentage, with all of those shortcomings counteracting an offense scoring 80.5 points per game.

That is how you go 0-2 while losing at home to a team like Oral Roberts and then blowing a late lead at Missouri State, another team that is nowhere near the Wichita State stratosphere in terms of talent. While Tulsa may get an emotional boost by being back home, that adrenaline can last only so long before the obvious edges Wichita State has in experience, discipline and especially raw talent all come to the surface.

Thus, while it is conceivable that this contest could be relatively close for a short while, look for Wichita State to ultimately pull away to a rather convincing victory.

[gameodds]14/250068/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Wichita State -5 (-117)