The Wichita State Shockers will host the Utah Utes in Wichita, Kan. at Intrust Bank Arena. Below is the Wichita State vs. Utah prediction and game preview.
Wichita State vs. Utah Game Preview
Date: Saturday, Dec. 12
Game Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Intrust Banke Arena, Wichita, Kan.
Why You Need To Care
Wichita State is 4-4. Let that soak in. Shocking isn’t it? Okay, maybe that pun isn’t appreciated by Shockers fans, but they should be more concerned with their team that started out at No. 10 in the AP Top 25 preseason rankings.
After a 10-point loss to Tulsa in just its second game, Wichita State bounced back with a 22-point win against Emporia State, but that’s what was supposed to happen. What wasn’t supposed to go down was the Shockers losing their next three games. Their next two games against St. Louis and UNLV both ended in wins, but you have to wonder who this Wichita State team really is. Gregg Marshall surely didn’t expect this after taking his team to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament only nine months ago.
Now the Shockers will host the Utes, who are 7-1, and it’s coming at a bad time if you’re Marshall. Utah slipped up against Miami three weeks ago and took a tough 90-66 loss on a neutral court. Since then, the Utes have won four games in a row by an average of 15.3 points.
The Shockers have home-court advantage, but Utah should definitely be taken seriously.
Why Wichita State Will Win
The Shockers seem to be doing better when Ron Baker takes a step back from scoring. In two of the three games in which Baker has hit the 20-point mark, Wichita State has lost. So, let’s go with Baker taking on a playmaking role — maybe even an offensive decoy. He’s averaging 16.9 points per game, but if he can find a way to get Fred VanVleet and Markis McDuffie into some rhythm jumpers, it might work out better for Wichita State in the end. All three will have to play tight to the ball on the other end. Utah commits just 11 turnovers per game, so that’ll be a challenge.
Why Utah Will Win
Well, we just talked about it, but the Utes should dare Baker to win the game by himself. Baker is a good enough scorer to take what he wants anyway, but Utah can lock in on everyone else and protect against the potential for kick-out threes. If Baker goes for 25 points but no one else scores in double figures, that’s a win for Utah. Jakob Poeltl will be key, though, as he’s averaging 21.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. If Poeltl shoots efficiently — he’s a 69.2-percent shooter — then the Utes will just need him to protect the glass and hope Jordan Loveridge can knock down some jumpers from behind the arc.
What’s Going To Happen?
The days of favoring Wichita State seem to be over — even on its home floor. Baker won’t get too much help in this one, and Poeltl won’t be stopped down low. Loveridge will hurt the Shockers from the outside, and the Utes just won’t turn the ball over enough to allow enough fast break opportunities for Wichita State. Utah wins the battle on the boards and the game itself.
Wichita State vs. Utah Prediction
Line: Wichita State -3