Washington St and Wichita St Battle in NIT Semifinals in New York City

NIT Semifinals
#2 Washington St Cougars vs #4 Wichita St Shockers
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: pick
Current Line: Wichita St -2 1/2
Opening Total: 144
Current Total: 144
Money Line: Wichita St -150 / Washington St +130

America East Tournament Preview
Washington St and Wichita St square off Tuesday night in the NIT semifinals in New York. The shockers are 2 1/2 point favorites.

These two teams had outside hopes of getting an NCAA bid, but a series of late-season losses relegated them to the NIT. Both teams took advantage of the oppurtunity and made it to the semifinals of this tournament. Any feelings of disappointment have been replaced with wanting to win the whole thing. Washington St is 22-12 overall and finished 6th in the Pac 10 with a 9-9 record.  They were seeded #2 in one of the four NIT brackets and have had three home games to advance this far. The Cougars beat Long Beach St in the first round 85-74, Oklahoma St 74-64 in the second round, and escaped with a 69-66 overtime victory over Northwestern in the quarterfinals. For that game forward DeAngelo Casto was supposed to be suspended for possession of marijuana, but Cougar coach Ken Bone resinstated him before he even served a game to “let the legal system run it’s course.” It had nothing to do witht eh fact that Casto is one of the Cougars’ best players and they were a game away from the NIT semifinals. I’ll bet BYU wishes their school had the same moral standards as Washington St! Wichita St is 27-8 and finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 14-4 record. The Shockers beat Nebraska 76-49 in the first round, pulled off a 79-76 overtime upset at Virginia Tech in the second round and beat Charleston 82-75 at home in the quarterfinals. The winner of Wichita and Washington St will play the winner of Alabama and Colorado in the Championship game Thursday.

Wichita St leads the overall series against Washington St 1-0 but teh teams haven’t played since 1960. Washington st is 4-2 in neutral site games this year, while the Shockers are also 4-2. Washington St is 6-4 all time against teams from the Missouri Valley Conference. The Cougars have never made it to the NIT semifinals before this year. Wichita St has four previous trips to the NIT semifinals but hasn’t been here since 1966.

Washington St has no injuries or suspensions right now. The Cougars are led by guard Klay Thompson. He is averaging 22 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1 block a game. He leads the team in scoring, assists, and steals. Guard Faisal Aden averages 12.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.4 steals a game. Forward  Casto averages 12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a game. He led the team in rebounds and blocks. In addition to Casto, the Cougars will depend on Marcus Capers and Abe Lodwick to provide additional rebounding and defensive help. Both average more than 4 rebounds a game off the bench.  Washington St is outscoring opponents 74-67 on the season. The Cougars are shooting 45.9% from the field and 35.7% from 3-point range. The Cougs are holding opponents to 39.6% shooting from the field. Washington St shoots 71% from the free throw line. Washington St averages 34.8 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of -1.3. They average 13.5 assists and 12.8 turnovers a game. They force 14.6 turnovers a game on defense. The Cougars average 6.8 steals and 3.9 blocks a game.

Wichita St guard Toure’ Murray is listed as probable with an illness. The Shockers are led by forward/center J.T. Durley, who is averaging 11.4 points to lead the team, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Guard David Kyles averages 9.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists a game. Guard Toure’ Murry averages 9.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. He leads the team in assists and steals. Forward Gabe Blair leads the Shockers in rebounds with 6.4 a game and blocks with 0.9 a game. WSU is outscoring opponents 73-62 on the year. The Shockers shoot 46.7% from the field and 35.6% from 3-point range. Shocker opponents are shooting 41.2% from the field. Wichita shoots 74.6% from the free throw line. The Shockers average 37.2 rebounds and have a rebounding margin of +7.9. They average 15.4 assists and 12.3 turnovers a game. The Shockers force 12.2 turnovers a game on defense. Wichita averages 5.8 steals and 3.8 blocks a game.

These two teams are very similar statistically. Wichita St has a slight edge in defense and rebounding. This game might come down to whether Wichita St can stop superstar Kaly Thompson for the Cougars. In the three NIT games for the Cougars, Thompson is averaging 21 points and just over 7 rebounds a game. Wichita St plays a very physical style that might rattle Washington St. This game will be close but I think Washington St simply will be too much for Wichita St.

Our colelge basketball handicappers are red hot in March. Don’t miss out on any more winners from now until the Championship game next Monday.    




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