Tonight is the night we have all been waiting for. The first day of the NCAA Tournament. And do we have a treat for our first game. The Wichita State Shockers will square off against Vanderbilt in a “First Four” play-in game to determine who will play #6 seed Arizona on Friday.
Like I said before, what a treat we have. So much talent in a play-in game is quite rare. Wade Baldwin IV, and Damion Jones, against Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. Though Vanderbilt is the bigger and more complete team, I believe that the experience of the Shockers, followed by having arguably the best backcourt in the country, will lead them to victory tonight.
In the past three years, Wichita State have witnessed pretty much everything. A run to the Final Four in 2012, an undefeated season in 2013, until a loss in the Sweet 16, and another Sweet 16 loss last year. There to witness everything was their senior guards, Point Guard Fred VanVleet, and Shooting Guard Ron Baker. This will be their last run in March, and wherever they go, the Shockers go.
In the Preseason AP Top 25 ranking, Wichita State was 10th in the country, but it didn’t last long due to a slow 5-5 start, mainly due to the fact that their star point guard (VanVleet) was out with a hamstring injury. The Shockers won their last 19 of 21 games to get into the play-in game against the Commodores. VanVleet, who is the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the year (his second time winning the award), is a brilliant defender as is every one on the Shockers, and runs the offense very well.
Ron Baker on the other hand, is just as good. Baker, the former walk-on turn star is an all-around good player as is Fred. Great defender (1.5 steals a game), has great range with his shot, and has very high basketball IQ, as well as good height at 6’5.
If both guys play like they can, Wichita State will have yet another good run in March, in what will cap off two brilliant college careers, by the duo.