Checking in on the… Missouri ValleyPosted by nvr1983 on February 15th, 2009
Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 and Missouri Valley Conferences.
Current Records and My Standings (Conference Record)(Last Week Rank)
- Northern Iowa (18-8) (12-3)(1)
- Creighton (21-6)(11-4) (2)
- Illinois St. (21-5) (10-5)(3)
- Bradley (14-12) (8-7) (4)
- Evansville (15-10) (7-8) (5)
- Wichita St. (13-13) (7-8) (8)
- Drake (15-12) (6-9) (6)
- Indiana St. (7-19) (5-10) (10)
- Southern Illinois (11-15) (6-9) (7)
- Missouri St. (10-16) (3-12) (9)
The Missouri Valley Conference has basically come down to two teams fighting for an NCAA spot—Northern Iowa and Creighton. UNI due to their run in the conference and the likelihood of them winning the regular season conference crown and Creighton due to their current run and chances to come back to win the conference. The rest of the teams are a little too inconsistent to be considered for anything at this point, though I am sure Illinois St. has a good possibility of the postseason. The rest have double-digit losses on the season and the conference eating themselves alive does not help.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Wichita St. 69, Northern Iowa 61—Northern Iowa is trying to make the Valley race a little interesting by losing their 2nd game in as many weeks and in this case losing against a Wichita St. team that is on fire right now. For Wichita St. who started conference play 0-6, Wichita is now sitting at 7-8 and really close to getting out of playing Thursday night in the conference tourney in St. Louis. Wichita’s defense has picked up and has caused havoc. With wins over the top three teams in the conference, Wichita St. has a slim possibility of getting as high as 3rd in the conference in the last two weeks of the regular season. Northern Iowa is feeling the pressure of Creighton breathing down their necks and it will be interesting to see how they handle things.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Jay Tunnell, Indiana St.—Here goes out a little love to Indiana St. who has had a bit of a tough season. The play of Jay Tunnell in the 3-game winning streak has been impressive. In the wins against Illinois St., Drake and Missouri St., Tunnell has shot 23/31 from the field including 14/19 from three. He almost single-handedly brought the Sycamores back from behind against Illinois St. with 28 points and 12 rebounds going 8/9 from three.
TEAMS PLAYING WELL
- Creighton (2-0 this week)— Creighton is on a roll right now after a nice win at home against Bradley and a thrashing of Southern Illinois in Carbondale. The win in Carbondale was the first in 7 years and a great relief to many. This team is starting to do the little things and play with a lot of energy to get wins. A drive to possibly catch Northern Iowa for the conference championship still looms if UNI stumbles in its final 3 games.
- Illinois St (2-0 this week)—Illinois St. beat Evansville and Drake this week to try to hold on to the 3rd place standing in the conference. However, the Redbirds suffered a blow when starting point guard Lloyd Phillips took a leave of absence from the team to attend to some “personal matters”, but then was announced he will be back in the coming week.
- Wichita St. (2-0 this week)—Wichita St. is playing the spoiler role like a champ right now and have now won 7 of their last 9 games including knocking off conference leader Northern Iowa on Saturday night. Toure Murry has become Mr. Clutch for Wichita including the big shot to win against Missouri St. Wichita is one of those teams Valley teams are going to want to avoid in the MVC tourney in St. Louis and could possibly avoid playing Thursday night.
- Indiana St. (2-0 this week)—Indiana St. is also on a bit of a roll lately winning their last 3. With their last 3 conference games against Southern Illinois, Wichita St. and Missouri St., they could end the season on a high note. Before the Missouri St. game, Indiana State’s Jay Tunnell had been on fire in two straight victories. He was 13 of 15 from 3-point range with games of 28 and 25 points. The win at Missouri St. broke a streak of 18 straight losses when playing in Springfield.
UP AND DOWN
- Northern Iowa (1-1 this week)—The pressure is starting to get to Northern Iowa as they again went 1-1 this week losing at Wichita St. this week. They have now let Creighton back into the race. In-state rival Drake comes to town and games at Illinois St. and at home against Evansville is going to make things very interesting. UNI is definitely not a lock for the NCAA Tournament.
- Bradley (1-1 this week)—Bradley lost to Creighton before rebounding to beat Evansville at home. The goal for Bradley now is to finish above .500. With the Braves in the midst of their losing 4 in a row, many fans wondered why Theron Wilson, probably their best player this season, was benched during the last part of the Drake game last week, but it was to send a message.
- Drake (0-2 this week)—Drake’s loss to Indiana St. is a blow to a team trying to avoid playing on Thursday in the conference tourney. They have not been playing very well as of late. Definitely not the team from last year.
- Evansville (0-2 this week)—Evansville is not looking good after losing to Illinois St. and Bradley. The losses put them behind both of those teams as the three try to fight for seeding. 0-5 against the top 4 teams in the league is not a good thing. They still have shots against UNI, Creighton and Bradley again to change that around.
- Southern Illinois (0-2 this week)—I can’t remember the last time Southern Illinois was taken back to the woodshed in back to back games including a game at home. Northern Iowa first took them out and beat them 81-55 in Cedar Falls. Then Creighton came into Carbondale and just dominated from the start blowing them out of their gym 82-60. This team has appeared to give up and with Bryan Mullins out for what appears to be the rest of the season, Southern Illinois has a lot of growing up to do yet this year to prepare for next. Chris Lowery’s recruiting isn’t quite sustaining the SIU success at this point.
- Missouri St. (0-2 this week)—Missouri St. has lost 6 of 7 including heart-breaking losses this week against Wichita St. and Indiana St. which were hoped to be one of their final opportunities to win a game the rest of the season. Shooting just above 50% from the free throw line over the past 5 games hasn’t helped them either.
GAMES OF INTEREST THIS WEEK
Each team has a mid-week conference game and then all of the teams are taking part in Bracketbusters this week.
- 2/18, Evansville @ Creighton (Statewide Nebraska PBS)–A win here needed to keep pace or tie Northern Iowa in the Valley standings.
- 2/18, Drake @ Northern Iowa (Local TV)—Is Northern Iowa going to falter down the stretch?
- 2/20, Illinois State at Niagara (ESPN2)—Kicking off Bracketbuster weekend.
- 2/21, Miami (OH) at Evansville (ESPNU)—At this point an insignificant matchup, but a winnable game for the MVC.
- 2/21, Northern Iowa at Siena (ESPN2)—The ESPN darling Siena will be tested by UNI.
- 2/21, George Mason at Creighton (ESPNU)—Bracketbusters final matchup of the day. Creighton appears to be in a similar situation that George Mason was a few years ago when they were on the edge of making the NCAA’s. This game could be huge for them.