The No. 4 Wichita State Shockers are one of two remaining undefeated teams in the nation, and the hardest test left in the season to maintain that distinction comes on Wednesday. The Shockers head on the road to face the Indiana State Sycamores, currently in second place in the Missouri Valley Conference, for a game at 8:05 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
It is rather fitting that the Shockers will face the Sycamores with zero losses on the record. The last team in the MVC to win its first 23 games of the season was Indiana State, back in 1979 when Larry Bird led the way to an NCAA championship game loss to Michigan State.
Wichita State easily handled Indiana State in their first meeting earlier in January. Ron Baker scored 16 points and the Shockers' defense locked down the Sycamores to the tune of 31 percent shooting. That game helped push the Sycamores down a bit in scoring in the conference. Wichita State currently leads the conference with 74.7 points per game, just a tad bit over Indiana State's 74.5 points. With that distinction, the Shockers are the only team in the nation to lead their conference in both scoring offense and defense.
After Indiana State, Wichita State's march to perfection gets a lot easier. No team on the rest of the schedule is higher than No. 100 in the KenPom rankings. Indiana State is undefeated at home this season.
Coaches make impacts on programs all the time, but in the conversation for biggest impact, Steve Fisher has to be up there. With its highest AP ranking since the 2011 season, Fisher has San Diego State chasing its ninth consecutive 20-win season.
San Diego State will need every ounce of its top-notch defense to keep Boise State in check. The Aztecs allow just 56.1 points per game, the third-best scoring defense in the nation. They hold opponents to just 36 percent shooting, tops in the nation, and opponents hit a mere 26.6 percent of shots from beyond the arc.
Boise State, led by junior guard Derrick Marks, likes to put points on the board. At home, the Broncos tend to score even more, averaging close to 81 points per game. Take out a low-scoring hiccup against Wyoming and that average goes up to 84 points per game.
Michigan doesn't have a lot of time to brush off its first conference loss after one of the tougher portions of its schedule. The Wolverines lost 63-52 at Indiana to start a span of five games in 14 days. Indiana held Michigan to 40 percent shooting in the lowest-scoring output for the Wolverines this season. Nik Stauskas had six points and Glenn Robinson III added nine in the loss.
The Wolverines should be able to flip the defensive effort on Nebraska. Nebraska is 10th in the league at 68.7 points per game, four more points than Michigan allows per game. Michigan will have to contain Texas Tech transfer Terran Petteway, whose 18.2 points per game is good for second in the conference.
The last time these two teams met, a three-point barrage from Louisville turned the game into an absolute laugher. The Cardinals rained down 15 three-pointers en route to a 91-52 win on Jan. 16. There isn't much to suggest that things will be too much different this time around, although one of the big catalysts in the earlier meeting will be gone. Louisville junior Wayne Blackshear didn't travel with the team because of a concussion suffered in practice on Monday. He is averaging 9.7 points and hitting 45 percent from beyond the arc. He was the leading scorer against Houston earlier this year with 23 points.
The Virginia Cavaliers are sitting all alone in second place in the ACC and have cracked the rankings again since falling out quite early in the season. They did it in the most dramatic way possible when Malcolm Brogdon hit a three with 0.4 seconds left to upset Pittsburgh on the road, 48-45. The suffocating defense of Virginia held Pittsburgh to 32 percent shooting.
The Eagles have dropped four of their last five games, including an overtime loss at Notre Dame on Saturday. The road hasn't been kind to Boston College this season, where they have lost seven of eight road games. Boston College hasn't beaten a Top 25 opponent since defeating Florida State on Feb. 8, 2012.
The Oklahoma Sooners' offensive approach is to pretty much take as many shots as possible. That is one of the reasons why they are up in the top of the country in terms of scoring. Such an approach can be tough though, because if the shots aren't falling, it offers the opponent plenty of chances to score. That is exactly what happened in their most recent game against Iowa State.
Oklahoma is trying to avoid its first losing streak of the season. West Virginia, meanwhile, is riding a two-game win streak with victories over Baylor and Kansas State. If there was any player designed to take advantage of a matchup with Oklahoma, it is junior Mountaineer guard Juwan Staten. Staten averages 18 points per game, second in the conference, while shooting 52.7 percent from the floor.
The Panthers' offense was bad against Duke and then even worse against Virginia in two consecutive losses at home that dropped them to fourth place in the ACC. The Panthers, who are normally one of the better shooting teams in the nation, were completely stifled by Virgina's defense before losing on a last-second three. Talib Zanna, who averages 12 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, was an afterthought in the loss, as he was held to two points and three rebounds.
There are two other ranked teams whose games aren't broadcast nationally: