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Wichita St. at Northern Iowa Preview

January 30, 2007

College Basketball - Wichita St. at Northern Iowa (-3˝, 130) 7:00 PM EST

Both Wichita State and Northern Iowa figured to be in the mix of title contenders this season and while the Panthers most certainly are, the same can ot be said for the Shockers, who have fans looking for more.

Wichita State started the season 9-0, which included wins at George Mason, at LSU and at Syracuse. A trip to Los Angeles just before Christmas reversed all the positives accomplished to that point with a pair of losses to New Mexico and USC. After a brilliant start Wichita State is 5-8 and 3-9 ATS.

Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports said the Shockers were “The most disappointing team thus far” during a Sunday broadcast. The problems for coach Mark Turgeon’s club have been twofold. First, after the quick start, the defensive intensity has been uneven. Only twice in the last thirteen games have the Shockers held opponents below 42 percent shooting. Last season opposing teams made only 40.3% on the year. The second factor has been inconsistent shooting on the MVC road. In three different conference games the Shockers have shot less the 40 percent and needless to say all losses.

After starting in first place, Northern Iowa has lost a pair of road games to fall to third spot, one game back in the loss column. Last season the Panthers were cruising along at the top position in the league when a lack of depth undermined their success. It could be more of the same for UNI. The starters play 29 or more minutes.

While coach Ben Jacobson plays eight men, the reserves are serviceable, but lack offensive capabilities. While many teams can get a boast off the bench, the Panthers try to just hold their own. This explains why they have lost 4 of 6 and have failed to cover in the role of favorite the last four times.

Northern Iowa has already beaten the Shockers as 7.5-point underdogs this season 63-59. Now the Panthers are 3.5-point home favorites as shown at Sportsbook.com. They have really held the upper hand in this series as well with 6-2 SU and ATS record.

Wichita State should have a legitimate shot for a win with UNI just 5-14 ATS after four straight games forcing opponent to commit 14 or less turnovers. While mentioning turnovers, this will likely key the Shockers chances of pulling out a road win. With an experienced backcourt, they should protect the ball better then they did in losses to Southern Illinois and Missouri State. In those two road games they committed 23 and 19 turnovers respectively.

Expect a hungrier Panthers squad to be sharp off a couple of road losses. Northern Iowa is 9-1 at home this season and the Shockers are 3-11 ATS versus good defensive teams allowing 64 or less points per contest after 15+ games.

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