St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - The quarterfinal round of the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament gets underway this afternoon when the eighth- seeded Indiana State Sycamores take on the tournament's top seed, the Wichita State Shockers, at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Indiana State advanced to this round after defeating ninth-seeded Southern Illinois on Thursday night, 66-51, improving its overall record to 18-13. It marks the fourth consecutive MVC Tournament win for the Sycamores, who won three games last season as the No. 3 seed in claiming the championship, but they will need to win three more games in this event if they want to successfully defend their crown. Indiana State has now won four of its last six games dating back to the regular season.
Wichita State is currently the 15th-ranked team in the country after capturing the MVC regular-season title by going 16-2 in conference (26-4 overall), becoming the league's sixth different regular-season conference champion in the last six years. Though the Shockers have been impressive all season, they are perhaps playing their best basketball right now, as they come into this tournament having won eight consecutive games. WSU hasn't been the MVC Tournament champ since 1987, but the top seed has won the event in three of the past four seasons.
Wichita State has a healthy advantage over Indiana State in the all-time series, 49-28, which includes a series sweep of the Sycamores this season, and wins in four of the last five meetings overall.
Indiana State impressed in its opening game of this event, shooting 50 percent from the floor while Southern Illinois committed as many turnovers as it had field goals (18). Leading the way for the Sycamore was Jake Odum, who tallied 17 points and eight rebounds, and he was joined in double figures by Dwayne Lathan (15 points) and Myles Walker (12 points). Odum has been the catalyst for this team the entire year as he averages 10.9 ppg, 5.8 apg and 5.2 rpg, one of just three players nationally to put up that many points, assists and rebounds per game. Dwayne Lathan (12.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Carl Richard (10 ppg, 5.0 rpg) are also major contributors, but the offense as a whole has been underwhelming, averaging just 64.9 ppg on 42.1 percent field goal efficiency.
Wichita State has the second-best offense in the MVC, putting up an impressive 78.3 ppg on an outstanding 49 percent shooting effort. The Shockers were well represented in terms of conference awards following the completion of the regular season, which included two All-MVC First Team selections for Garrett Stutz and Joe Ragland. Stutz finished as the league's most productive center, ranking seventh in scoring (14.1 ppg) and field goal percentage (.560) while grabbing the third-most rebounds (8.0 rpg) and adding a block per game. Ragland tallies 13.2 ppg and a team-high 3.4 apg, and he also shoots a hefty 56.1 percent from the floor. Toure' Murry (12.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.3 apg) took home some hardware as well, joining the honorable mention squad. Wichita State makes things happen at both ends of the floor, giving up just 62.8 ppg on a league-low field goal percentage of only .397.
03/02 10:57:47 ET