Fifth-ranked Wichita State is one of three remaining unbeaten teams in the country thanks to the longest winning streak and best start in school history.
It's not good enough to give them sole possession of the Missouri Valley Conference lead because of how well Indiana State is playing.First place in the conference is on the line Saturday, when one of these teams will improve to 6-0 in MVC play in Wichita.Wichita State (18-0) cruised past Bradley 72-50 on Tuesday to do its part to set up this showdown for MVC supremacy."Regardless of what happens now, Saturday now will be for first place early in the conference race," coach Gregg Marshall said.Indiana State (14-3) moved back into a tie for first with its seventh straight win, 70-55 over Missouri State on Wednesday.The Sycamores are off to their best MVC start since Larry Bird led them to a 16-0 mark and the national championship game in 1978-79.Now it's Wichita State that has the Final Four pedigree in the conference."Hey, we can play really good and get beat, that's how good Wichita State is," Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said. "We can play awfully well and go in there and get beat. But this is why you come to Indiana State. You're going to go play an undefeated team in their arena on ESPN, what could be any better?"Indiana State is the league's highest scoring team with 76.7 points per game, with Wichita State second at 75.8. The Shockers are better on defense, allowing a MVC-low 60.7 points per game compared to the 68.4 that ranks the Sycamores sixth.Lansing's team won't be intimidated with three senior starters along with junior Justin Gant, who is in his second season as a starter. Indiana State ended an eight-game slide in Wichita with last season's 68-55 victory over a 15th-ranked Shockers team Jan. 29."Going into Wichita, we know what that place is like," said guard Jake Odum, who is tied with Manny Arop for the team lead in scoring with an average of 12.5 points. "I don't even know the word to use -- ferocious. The crowd is crazy. It's one of the most exciting places to play."Odum faces a tough point guard matchup against Fred VanVleet, who came off the bench last season for the Shockers. VanVleet has become a candidate for conference player of the year now and he had 22 points and seven rebounds Tuesday."I don't want to be cocky or anything but when I step out onto that court, I feel like I'm the best player and I think that's the attitude you've got to have," VanVleet said.The Sycamores will also try to slow down Cleanthony Early, who averaged 17.0 points and 7.5 rebounds last season against them. The Shockers won 66-62 at Indiana State on Feb. 19 to gain revenge for the home loss.Indiana State will get its first look at Wichita State sophomore guard Ron Baker, who missed both 2012-13 matchups with a foot injury. Baker is tied for second on the club with VanVleet in scoring with 12.8 points per game behind Anthony's 16.0 mark.Arop had 34 points and 15 rebounds for the Sycamores in the 2012-13 season series.