Perfection could come to an end on Saturday.
It’s unlikely but possible. According to Ken Pomeroy, Wichita State has a 96 percent chance of beating Missouri State on Saturday afternoon.
If the Bears intend to change history and ruin the Shockers’ bid to complete a 31-0 regular season, they should follow the game plan that helped them amass a 19-point second-half edge in the first game. Wichita State ultimately won 72-69 in overtime. But the Shockers finally looked fragile, while also providing evidence of their resilience.
But what happened in that first game? And will it happen again?
Wichita State shoots 34 percent from the 3-point line, 197th nationally. It’s not a huge element in its offensive attack, so the mediocre numbers aren’t that significant unless they’re in a pit.
And that’s what they encountered on the road against Missouri State last month. The Shockers were stunned by the Bears’ surge and rapid double-digit advantage. Their 5-for-22 clip from beyond the 3-point arc in that game was a factor in their struggle.
Missouri State pressured the Shockers into contested shots. The Bears were relentless.
Wichita State eventually figured it out. Cleanthony Early attacked and ended up with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Fred VanVleet’s outburst in overtime helped the Shockers leave Springfield, Miss., with the win.
But it wasn’t flawless.
The Shockers are America’s most polarizing team. Most believe they’re either getting too much love or not enough. The beautiful thing about this sport is that March solves every debate. And Wichita State will have the opportunity to prove its doubters wrong in due time.
Saturday’s game (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) might not ruin Wichita State’s unblemished record. But if it’s anything like the first game -- and that’s the only way that Missouri State will have a chance -- then the Shockers might need to hit shots from outside, something that was a struggle for the program in the first outing and really, all season.
No pressure. Just perfection on the line.