Checking In On… the Missouri ValleyPosted by jstevrtc on December 1st, 2009
Patrick Marshall of White & Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.
Current Records and My Standings:
- Missouri State (5-0)
- Wichita State (5-1)
- Bradley (4-2)
- Illinois State (6-0)
- Indiana State (5-2)
- Southern Illinois (3-1)
- Northern Iowa (4-1)
- Evansville (2-2)
- Drake (2-4)
- Creighton (2-4)
STORIES OF THE WEEK
Creighton lays an egg. Creighton had Michigan on the ropes in their opening game of the Old Spice Classic with a five point lead in the closing minutes but let Michigan back. It took a full court drive by Creighton’s Antoine Young to send the game to overtime, but the Bluejays could not stop Manny Harris from taking over the OT period and sending Creighton to a loss. They then looked like they were stuck in quicksand against Xavier in the losers’ bracket and then finished things off with a loss against a young Iona squad. Many thought Creighton had a chance to really make some noise in this tournament and even an opportunity to win it all, but they had the worst possible scenario happen to them, going 0-3 in the tournament and creating only negative buzz for themselves on the national stage.
Missouri St. On Fire. Missouri St. took out an undefeated Tulsa team to up their record to 5-0. They already have two nice wins on the season with their first road contest coming up this week.
Performance in tourney play. The Valley had varying degrees of success in the holiday tourneys held last week. Wichita St. lost to Pittsburgh, but then came back to defeat Iowa in the CBE Classic. Bradley kept Oklahoma St. close before losing to them, but turned around to defeat Illinois. Creighton, as mentioned earlier, went 0-3 in the Old Spice Classic. The conference is now 36-17 in the non-conference season.
Missouri State — Missouri State has been the most impressive so far and one of only two teams in the conference still undefeated. Eastern Kentucky transfer Adam Leonard has continued to make an impact for Missouri St. with 24 points in the win against Tulsa. Maybe the critics will be silenced. Arkansas-Little Rock and Air Force are on the slate for the Bears this week.
Southern Illinois — The Salukis are quietly doing pretty well so far. After an unfortunate road loss at UNLV last week, they were able to rebound to defeat Illlinois-Chicago. The problem with Saluki fans is that they aren’t exactly sure about what they would rather have—more points or tough defense. They hit the road again this coming weekend at St. Louis.
Indiana State – The Sycamores have a lot going for them right now. After stumbling against Coastal Carolina in the NIT Consolation bracket, they turned around the next night to defeat Western Kentucky and then got a victory over Arkansas State on Sunday afternoon. The Sycamores don’t play a game this week, and won’t play again until a week from Wednesday. But this is quite a turnaround for them after starting 0-6 last season.
Wichita State — Wichita wasn’t sure what to expect going into the CBE Classic. They stuck close to a young Pittsburgh team but didn’t have enough to get to the finals. They did, however, have success against Iowa in the consolation and then went on the road to take out Cleveland State, so things are looking pretty good for the shockers. Is a win against a BCS team still a good win even if it is Iowa? They get a little home cooking this week with Alcorn St. and Texas Southern coming to town.
Illinois State – They’re the other undefeated Valley team, but preseason Valley POY Osiris Eldridge has been struggling. He did get x-rays on his hip earlier this week, and this past weekend he struggled on the offensive end for the Redbirds — until Sunday. Eldridge got a benching after a missed 360-degree dunk attempt in Saturday’s game, but came back on Sunday with 28 points in 6-10 shooting from three point range and 10-16 shooting overall. His health is a big key in their success this season. The Redbirds have a light week this week with Central Michigan coming to town on Saturday.
Bradley — Bradley is continuing to quietly impress. Though they couldn’t defeat Oklahoma State in the Las Vegas Invitational, they were able to bounce back and defeat Illinois the next evening. Bradley had four games in the past seven days winning three out of the four. They stay on the road against Northern Illinois this week. The other big news of the week for Bradley is that their university President will be serving on the NCAA athlete certification committee.
Northern Iowa — UNI turned their lemons into lemonade as they were able to defeat Boston College from the ACC in their consolation game in the Paradise Jam tournament. But they were almost surprised by Northern Illinois while struggling with scoring. They now head into their annual game against Iowa State hoping to build on their past two wins.
TEAMS WITH WORK TO DO
Creighton — Obviously, Creighton has some work to do after their winless performance in the Old Spice Classic. But they do not have time to sulk. In-state rival Nebraska comes into the Qwest Center Sunday afternoon. I see it as a lack of veteran leadership on this team. The bright spot has been the play of Freshman Ethan Wragge who is shooting quite well from three and currently second on the team in scoring in limited minutes. Creighton ends November with a losing record for the first time since 1997.
Evansville — Evansville is still a work-in-progress. After falling behind way too early at Miami (OH) this week, they continue on the road this week at Tennessee Tech before hosting Alabama State at the end of the week.
Drake — Drake rebounded from their terrible performance at the Glenn Wilkes Classic by garnering a win on the road against Austin Peay in their return game from last year’s Bracketbusters. They get some home-love as they host the first of two weekend tournaments this next weekend against SIU-Edwardsville (who will now be playing three Valley teams) and either North Dakota or Texas-Arlington.
WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH
After all of the Thanksgiving play, the Valley has a light week this week, but here are some matchups of interest:
- 12/2—Missouri St. @ Arkansas-Little Rock — Can Missouri St. continue their surprising start? This will be their first game on the road this season. Last season they were 2-12 on the road.
- 12/2—Northern Iowa @ Iowa St. (ESPN FC) – These in-state rivals always put on a nice game. UNI has a lot of confidence coming into the game with a win over Boston College while Iowa St. just lost in the Chicago Invitational championship game to Northwestern.
- 12/5—Southern Illinois @ St. Louis (Local TV, St. Louis and Carbondale) — The Salukis try to get their first road win of the season.
- 12/6—Creighton vs. Nebraska (Local TV, Omaha) — Creighton left Orlando with a lot left to figure out. Will they get it together in time against in-state rival Nebraska? Over the past several meetings, the home team has won the contest, so that may be in Creighton’s favor.