Preview: Wichita State Takes on Illinois State for First Place in the MVC

Wichita State @ Illinois State 

Saturday, January 14

8 PM ET

ESPN2

This is a game that Mid-Major writers like myself live for. Two good teams vying for the top spot in the conference standings.  
The Shockers and the Redbirds have had similar seasons thus far. Both are currently riding six game winning streaks and are undefeated (5-0) in conference play. For one of these teams, those streaks will end tonight.

Tale of the Tape:
This years Wichita State squad is the prototypical team that Gregg Marshall has had over the years. They share the ball, play good team defense, and shoot the three very well. The Shockers are a proven power amongst the Mid-Major conferences.
Illinois State has a very balanced scoring attack. The Redbirds have four players that average double figures each game. ISU likes to send the ball inside and grind in the paint. Once teams let their guard down on the perimeter, they kick the ball back out and drain a three.

Players to Watch:
Paris Lee (Illinois State Senior PG)

-Paris Lee is the backbone of this years Illinois State squad. If you need more reasons to watch this game, he is one. Lee can do it all. He can pull up from anywhere on the court and can make crafty moves to get to the basket. If Lee does not play well Illinois State is in danger of losing.

MiKyle McIntosh (Illinois State Junior F)

-The 6-7 Canadian forms one of the best frontcourts in the Missouri Valley Conference with Senior Forward Deontae Hawkins. McIntosh averages 14 points and 7 rebounds per contest. Along with his presence in the paint, he can step out and shoot the three. He is shooting better than 40% from downtown. He will be a tough match up for the Wichita State big men.

Conner Frankamp (Wichita State Junior G)

-If you look up Conner Frankamp’s statistics for this season you’ll see that he averages 6 points and two assists per game. Very mediocre numbers. However, what Frankamp contributes to this team does not show up on the stat sheet. The Kansas transfer provides big game experience and a calming presence to a younger squad. His basketball IQ is off the charts and he is always making the right play.

Prediction:
Redbird Arena will be packed for this blockbuster game between the two MVC frontrunners, This game will be an instant classic and could eventually decide the MVC Champion. Paris Lee will have a huge game for ISU, but Wichita State’s depth will be too much for the Redbirds. Wichita State-82, Illinois State-76.   

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