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Wichita St. @ St. Louis

by: Rich Salvatori @dickiesalvatori - posted on: 01-Dec-2013

Wichita State heads to St. Louis to play a rare road game during a time when many schools are prepping for or wrapping up holiday tournaments. The Billikens come off a ten point, neutral site victory over Old Dominion. Prior to that, they were exposed a bit by Wisconsin who built a massive lead on them prior to a five point victory.

A win here would be the Billikens most notable to date and would enhance the idea that they are a top 25 team, something many analysts project. While this St. Louis team was certainly impressive during it's run a year ago through the A-10, there are some limitations that could come back to haunt them.

Wisconsin plays at the same pace and style as St. Louis, except their guards are bigger and they have more lethal shooters. They were comfortable playing a grinder and it enabled them to stymie what it is St. Louis does best.

Wichita comes into this game with similar capabilities. They have several large bodies who should be able to bang with St. Louis center Rob Loe down inside. In Ron Baker and Fred van Fleet, they also have two shooters who are both consistent and unafraid to take big shots. Tekele Cotton is also serviceable in that regard.

While the Shockers will certainly use the three-ball at times, I also expect them to have advantages down low. Watch the Cleanthony Early-Loe matchup. While Loe is typically dominant against A-10 competition, he will often struggle with athletic bigs or even ones like Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky.

Kaminsky is versatile enough to step out and hit shots. Bringing Loe away from the basket opens up the glass and creates opportunities inside. Early likes to operate in the post, but he is capable of heading to the high block or elbow extended as well. 

This spread opens at St. Louis -2, which is right about where it should be. The Billikens deserve to be favored on their home floor in a game between two teams that seems relatively even on paper. I look for St. Louis to experience some regression in these spots given how successful they were a year ago. It's not to say they re no longer a good team, but I'm just not sure their style will work against a gritty and determined group that mirrors them in many ways. 

Siding with the road team is not advantageous enough given the points allotted, and so I'll pass on the game. Still, this will be a good road test for the Shockers in determining weather or not their offense is efficient enough to potentially allow for a return trip to the Final Four come March.