Welcome to St. Louis, where the Shocks would love to make a quick return trip. The Midwest Regional Finals are in the Edward R. Jones Dome in three weeks…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
This is the third meeting between the two teams, the Shockers have won both—by 10 points in Terre Haute and by just 5 at Koch Arena on February 4th. The Sycamores really defend, in fact, two of the Shockers worst five shooting nights of the season have come against ISU. Last year’s MVC Tournament champions come into the game with absolutely nothing to lose and feel like they’ve been playing well. Head coach Greg Lansing’s team has won four of their last six and one of those losses came by one point at home to Creighton. But the Sycamores were uneven in their win over Southern Illinois last night and were blown out by Butler in their Bracketbuster game, so it’s hard to know what to expect from them. Remember, the Shockers swept the regular season against Indiana State last year too, before the Sycamores got them in this tourney.
As for the Shockers, Garrett Stutz and Joe Ragland both looked ok in their shoot around at Scottrade Center. Both told me that they were feeling better, but both were working out for the first time in four days. One wonders whether fatigue will be an issue with them, especially if WSU advances here. Gregg Marshall is another story, he could barely stay seated during yesterday’s Coach of the Year banquet and he obviously was struggling through his media responsibilities yesterday. You hope that Shocker sickness doesn’t become the story of their stay in St. Louis.
Obviously, there’s been a lot of speculation about Marshall’s future. Most of the questions from my colleagues around the Valley center on the expected opening at Illinois. I haven’t talked to Gregg about this specifically—but going into colder weather than we have in the Valley would really surprise me. Sure, it’s the Big Ten and it’s a program you can win championships in—but, knowing Gregg, it doesn’t seem like a good fit. Not that there aren’t other that are—South Carolina will be the most interesting to watch, but why worry about it now. Marshall would be the first one to tell you to enjoy the ride and today the Shockers hope to start the engine.'
The game starts at noon on Fox Sports Network. Here is the channel information. Cox 34/2034, DirectTV 671, Dish Network 418 and AT&T U-Verse 748.