Know the opponent: Wichita State will meet Furman Paladins for the first time

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Know the opponent: Wichita State will meet Furman Paladins for the first time

Wichita State freshman Dexter Dennis helps up senior Markis McDuffie during the first half of the game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Wichita State freshman Dexter Dennis helps up senior Markis McDuffie during the first half of the game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State freshman Dexter Dennis helps up senior Markis McDuffie during the first half of the game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Joseph Barringhaus

Joseph Barringhaus

Wichita State freshman Dexter Dennis helps up senior Markis McDuffie during the first half of the game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Never heard of Furman? Get to know the name.

Wichita state will travel to Greensville, South Carolina, to play the Furman Paladins for the first time in school history. The Shockers drew a No. 6 seed in the National Invitation Tournament and will play Furman, who drew the No. 3 seed.

The higher seed in the NIT will host until the semifinals of the tournament, which will be held in Madison Square Garden. Should Wichita State win, it’ll next travel to Clemson, South Carolina. Clemson advanced in the first round with a win on Tuesday night.

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State forward Asbjørn Midtgaard takes a shot during the first half of the game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower).

Who is Furman?

Furman won its first 12 games. It beat NCAA Tournament teams Villanova and Gardner-Webb. It also beat Loyola-Chicago, one of last year’s Final Four teams. That justified a spot in the AP Poll for three weeks. The Paladins were ranked as good as No. 23 before falling out.

Furman finished the year with a 25-7 record, losing to Wofford in the semifinal of the Southern Conference Tournament. Furman finished No. 41 in NET rankings and No. 56 in KenPom — spots both ahead Wichita State.

Matt Rafferty is the leading force for the Paladins, leading the team in almost every statistical category.He averages 17 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals per game. He also shoots 61 percent from the field. 

“They remind me of some really good Davidson teams over the years,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. “They are very precise on offense.”

Marshall highlighted the Paladins’ surprising wins this season, like when the team stunned Villanova at its place.

“You don’t go to Villanova and win and not be a very good team,” Marshall said. “In this day and age, to go to Villanova and win is a big time accomplishment.”

Wichita State will try not to overlook the Paladins’ hot 3-point shooting. The team shoots the 16th-best rate in the country. However, this year’s NIT includes rule changes that move the 3-point line back 1-foot and eight inches.

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. from Timmons Arena.

Joseph Barringhaus
Gregg Marshall addresses media following Wichita State’s semifinal loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats. Marshall said, “There’s been disappointment. There’s been shortcomings. There’s been doubt. But the way that they have handled not only their business but the example that they’ve set for the young players, for me as a 56-year-old man, has been incredible.”