RTC Aftermath: MVC Finals

Posted by rtmsf on March 8th, 2009

RTC Aftermath will come to you each night where our correspondents are at the conference tournament games as a part of RTC Live.  Patrick Marshall was in St. Louis all weekend covering the MVC Tournament for RTC.

First off, I would like to apologize to Rush the Court and Rush the Court fans that due to a family issue, we were not able to do an RTC Live event for the Missouri Valley Conference Final as expected.

UNI: MVC Champs (photo credit: WCFCourier.com)

UNI: MVC Champs (photo credit: WCFCourier.com)

Northern Iowa is the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament champion and punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament today defeating Illinois St. in overtime 60-57.  Northern Iowa was on fire early and took  a 27-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.   Illinois St. was only shooting 23% at halftime and almost looked like they were going to suffer the same fate they handed to Creighton the night before.

However, Illinois St. came out in the second half with a run to quickly tie the game behind Osiris Eldridge who scored all 21 of his points after halftime.  The game then went back and forth the rest of the way with Eldridge hitting some 3-pointers that were way behind the line including one that was almost literally at half court.  It looked like Illinois St.’s game to win, but the Panthers from UNI stormed back to force the game into overtime.

In the overtime, UNI’s Ali Farokhmenesh once again hit 2 key three pointers and free throws at the end to get UNI to the victory.  He finished with 13 points on 4-5 shooting and 3-4 from three.  Kwadzo Ahelegbe led UNI with 17 points as the other Panther in double figures.

The things that stuck out in the game were that Illinois St. was able to put up 63 shots while Northern Iowa only put up 46.  For the game, Illinois St. was held to 30% shooting which was totally opposite from the night before.  So as Northern Iowa is celebrating with their 23-10 record and the MVC tournament championship, let’s see how other teams from the Valley might fare in the postseason:

Creighton (26-7)—Creighton has a long week to sit and wait to see what their fate is after getting blown out by Illinois St. in the MVC tourney semifinal game.  However, Creighton can claim that they won 11 of their final 12 games, shared the MVC regular seasons championship and has 26 wins.  I liken this team to George Mason in 05-06 that barely made the Tournament and made their historic run to the Final Four.  The 05-06 MVC is the 08-09 Mountain West Conference and the 08-09 MVC is like the 05-06 Colonial Athletic Association.  Creighton and George Mason both tied for their conference’s regular season  championship.  They both had the #2 seed in their conference tournament.  They both lost in the conference tourney semifinals against a team they had troubles with (Illinois St. for Creighton and Hofstra for George Mason).  Many wondered that if they took an at-large CAA team, why they did pick George Mason instead of Hofstra?  Many may say the same if Creighton is chosen this year from the Valley over Illinois St.  Well, Creighton did finish ahead of Illinois St. in the Valley regular season and George Mason finished ahead of Hofstra in the CAA regular season.  So I think it is a very similar situation this year and if there is a second team chosen from the Valley, it will be Creighton.  With the bubble fluctuating daily, it will be interesting to see what happens.  Otherwise it is the NIT for them.

Illinois St (24-9)—Some may look and say with their win over Creighton why wouldn’t Illinois St. get considered as an NCAA at-large team?  They have about the same record as Creighton.  Well, look a little deeper.    They did decent in the conference and in the conference tourney, but if you look out of conference their best non-conference win was against Wright St.  There was no other team in the top 100 that they played.    So if you put Illinois St. and Creighton side-by-side, you would see quite a difference other than the fact that they beat Creighton twice.  They should easily be in the NIT.

Bradley (18-14)—Bradley’s game against Northern Iowa in the MVC tourney was probably their chance to get into the NIT if they had won that game.  They may have to settle again for the CBI postseason tournament this year.  Last season, Bradley played in the inaugural tournament and lost the best of three series against Tulsa in the tournament final.  The Peoria writers think Bradley may instead go to the CollegeInsider tournament.

Evansville (17-13)—Evansville had a nice season.  However, they will probably need to hope that they get to take part possibly in the CBI postseason tournament but will more likely be part of the CollegeInsider tournament.  But if Bradley somehow gets into the NIT, then Evansville will be part of the CBI.

Wichita St. (16-16)—Wichita St. vastly improved as the season wore on but lost the heartbreaker against Creighton.  They should get some serious consideration for the new CollegeInsider tournament  for a postseason appearance.  However if Evansville gets invited, I could easily see that Wichita St. will not be a part of this and their season will be over.  Gregg Marshall still doesn’t like how the MVC tourney game against Creighton went.

The rest of the Valley has losing records for the season and their seasons are over.  The Valley may have had what many might consider a down year again this year, but many teams are young and there will be a lot returning next season.  Look out for the Valley for the next couple of seasons.

rtmsf (3954 Posts)

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