Joe Lunardi's projected NCAA tourney seed: 6
Returning minutes: 49 percent
What you know: Gone are Wichita's mainstays from a surprise Final Four, C Carl Hall and PG Malcolm Armstead (team-high 28.6 mpg apiece).
What you should know: Steady soph Fred VanVleet saw action in all 39 games (16.2 mpg) and takes over at PG; 6'9" Louisiana-Lafayette transfer Kadeem Coleby will add athletic shot- blocking; and soph wing Evan Wessel returns from a broken finger after he helped the team to an 8-0 start. Ultimately, Wichita is as good as senior F Cleanthony Early, last year's leading scorer (13.9 ppg). He must improve his left and his D if he wants to lead the Shockers deep into the NCAA tourney.
Around the basket: Extremely efficient, the Shockers create some of the toughest matchups in the country. Their numbers around the basket are high because of Early. He's strong enough to post up, but he can step out and is also really good playing off the lane. That gray area is hard to guard because good shooters like Early can rip it and go.
Three-pointers: Coach Greg Marshall runs a balanced system. The versatility of Early and the Shockers' good shooting make the team hard to defend in a lot of places. Even with Armstead gone (team-high 61 threes), Wichita will still shoot a high rate from long range and the coaches are high on soph G Ron Baker and Wessel (46 3PT percentage before the injury).