Wichita State vs Grand Canyon preview, predictions, odds

Opponent: Grand Canyon (3-1, 23-8 in 2021)

All-Time: First Meeting

When and Where: CBS Sports Network, T-Mobile Center (CBE Hall of Fame Classic), 2:00 PM EST

The Line: Wichita State -2.5

The Pick: Grand Canyon +2.5

It’s hard not to draw a few similarities between the Wichita State and Grand Canyon programs – rabid fan bases, plenty of money in the hoops budget, and often overlooked by national media.

This will be the first meeting between the Shockers and the Lopes, although it’s hard to imagine these programs have never clashed before. Grand Canyon is on a rise reminiscent of the early 2000s of Shocker basketball.

Minus, of course, the deep basketball tradition that always existed at Wichita State. GCU coach Bryce Drew is working to build his own history for the relatively new D1 program.

Drew leaned on former Shocker Asbjorn Midtgaard to get that story started with a 2020-2021 NCAA Tournament appearance, although they missed out last season.

This season he will rely on WAC preseason player of the year Jovan Blacksher Jr. (13.0 ppg) to try and lead the Lopes back to the NCAA Tournament.

Wichita State’s confidence was restored with a huge 56-53 bounce back victory over Richmond on Thursday night. Isaac Brown mixed up the lineup and found success with it, solving their rebounding problem and seeing an improvement on offense.

Jaykwon Walton lead the way for the Shockers with 20 points against the Spiders, and senior leader Craig Porter Jr. added 5 steals. Brown needs another strong performance from his leaders against a stingy Grand Canyon offense.

The Story

Which Shockers Show Up?

Wichita State looked like a whole new team against Richmond following Isaac Brown’s lineup changes. Will that same Shocker team that hustled for almost 40 minutes show up, or will the apathetic team that fell to Alcorn State arrive?

First To 60 Wins

Both teams are great on the defensive side of the ball. The Shockers only allow 58 points per game, and the Lopes one-up them with a 52.8 points allowed effort. WSU has struggled on offense and although Grand Canyon’s offense has been smoother, they have not played a team with a comparable defense to the Shockers’.

Home Away From Home

Wichita State fans are notorious for bringing huge numbers on the road and having strong fan support. With the Shockers in a down year, it remains to be seen how well the WSU faithful will represent at this tournament, just under 3 hours from Wichita. A huge crowd could be the difference maker in what is sure to be a close one.

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