Checking in on… the MVCPosted by jstevrtc on December 7th, 2009
Patrick Marshall of the White and Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley conference.
MY STANDINGS (current record/last week’s)
- Missouri St. 7-0 (1)
- Wichita St. 7-1 (2)
- Illinois St. 7-0 (4)
- Bradley 5-2 (3)
- Northern Iowa 5-1 (7)
- Indiana St. 5-2 (5)
- Evansville 4-2 (8)
- Southern Illinois 3-2 (6)
- Creighton 3-4 (10)
- Drake 3-5 (9)
STORIES OF THE WEEK
- Still two undefeated teams — Missouri St. is still undefeated seven games into their season. The Bears have had some nice wins against Tulsa and Auburn along with some outside sharpshooting. They are shooting almost 42% from three point range and holding opponents to under 60 points per game.
- The Redbirds on the other hand are also 7-0, but against some questionable competition. As expected, though, the veterans of Osiris Eldridge, Lloyd Phillips and Dinma Odiakosa have led the way for Illinois St. in scoring and minutes played. At the same time this team has also escaped some close calls. We may not know more about the Redbirds until their trip to Utah in a couple of weeks.
- Evansville double OT thriller — Evansville went into Tennessee Tech this week trying to rebound from a couple of losses. Who knew it would be one of the more dramatic games of the season so far. Freshman Colt Ryan hit a 12-foot shot with five seconds remaining in the second overtime to lead the them to a thrilling 91-90 victory. Ryan played a game high 47 minutes of the contest.
- Drake hits new low — Usually when you setup your own tournament, schools usually set it up so they are likely to win it. With Drake opening up against SIU-Edwardsville who is playing a full D-1 conference slate this season, you expected Drake to advance to the next day final at home. Well instead, SIU-E knocked off the Bulldogs, 60-58. SIU-E, by the way, went on to win the Drake weekend tourney.
Missouri State (2-0 this week) — Missouri St. went on the road this week to knock off Arkansas-Little Rock. Through that game, the Bears had scored at least 70 PPG. They grinded out a 58-48 win, however, against Air Force in the MVC/MWC Challenge. A new player keeps emerging each game for Missouri State. This time it was Jermaine Mallett and his defense. A home game against Tennessee-Martin and then a roadtrip to Arkansas State will be this weeks’ tests.
Wichita State (3-0 this week) — Wichita continues to roll with three home games this past week. Right now, Jerry Palm’s CollegeRPI.com ranks WSU’s strength of schedule No. 323 out of 347 Division I schools. The big story of the week during this guaranteefest is what the redshirt players are doing this season. A road trip to UMKC and a home game against TCU are on the schedule this week.
Illinois State (1-0 this week) — Illinois St. won their only game against Central Michigan. Osiris Eldridge put himself on top of the Illinois St. all-time three point shooting list but didn’t have a good offensive night otherwise. A return game from the Bracketbusters against Niagara is on the schedule this week.
Bradley (1-0 this week) — Bradley didn’t have a letdown as they hit the road to defeat Northern Illinois. As well as Taylor Brown has been playing, there are some looking at Chris Roberts as the most steady player. Bradley gets some props on the academic side of things as they are tops in the Valley in graduation rate of their athletes. Western Carolina comes to town this week.
Northern Iowa (1-0 this week) — After the early stumble in the Paradise Jam, Northern Iowa has settled down to play some solid basketball. This week they went to Ames and knocked off Iowa State as Ali Faroknamesh hit a three-pointer towards the end of the game to give them the win. But it has been the play of Jordan Eglseder that has helped UNI turn things around. His 20 points and 14 rebounds made Iowa St.’s solid frontcourt look silly. They continue the Iowa rivalry games as they host the Hawkeyes this week.
Creighton (1-0 this week) — Creighton rose out of the doldrums to establish an inside game this week against Nebraska as Kenny Lawson scored 25 points and grabbed 10 big rebounds to help Creighton get a win they desperately needed after the poor showing at the Old Spice Classic. They hit the road this week for the return game of the Bracketbusters with George Mason.
Evansville (2-0 this week) — Evansville got two nice wins this week including the thrilling double OT win against Tennessee Tech mentioned earlier, but if it wasn’t for some key free throw shooting at the end of the game against Alabama State, it would have been a big let down for this young team before they go back on the road against a tough Western Kentucky team this week.
Indiana State — Indiana St. did not play this week. They prepare for Ball State and Oral Roberts this week.
TEAMS WITH WORK TO DO
Southern Illinois (0-1 this week) — Going on the road looks like it might be a huge problem for the Salukis this season as they lost their second in as many road games to the youngest team in basketball, St. Louis. They had a great first half, but fell apart in the 2nd half to lose, 71-61. Kevin Dillard was the one bright spot as he had 23 points, but it has to be more than Dillard for the Salukis to have a successful season. They get another chance to try and get a win on the road with a trip to Southeast Missouri State before hosting Alabama State next weekend.
Drake (1-1 this week) — It is looking to be a long season in Des Moines as Drake cannot win the close games, including letting SIU-E score the final eight points in the loss mentioned above. They did salvage the weekend to defeat North Dakota, but at this point it is hard to tell what to expect from the Bulldogs this season. One piece of good news is that Drake’s recruiting class has been ranked first in the Valley by ESPN.
WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH
A few decent games this week. Unfortunately, you won’t see them unless you live in a Valley territory:
12/8 — Iowa @ Northern Iowa — The Panthers continue their in-state rivalry tour to host the horrible Hawkeyes. UNI is coming off a dramatic win against Iowa St. last week which could keep the momentum going for them this week.
12/8 — Evansville @ Western Kentucky (Local TV) — Evansville has been playing some drama-filled basketball these days and a young roster is stepping up to play big for the Purple Aces. This will be a good test for the Aces as they play a historically tough Hilltopper team.
12/12 — Creighton @ George Mason (Local TV) — Creighton hits the road again and this time to Fairfax to take on George Mason in a return from last season’s Bracketbusters. This will be a bit of a homecoming for Justin Carter as he grew up just a couple hours away. Earlier this summer, MVC Commisioner Doug Elgin tried to get this game moved to next season as Creighton was trying to schedule a home date with Georgetown, but George Mason coach Jim Larranaga would have nothing to do with that.
12/12 — Drake vs. Binghamton (Local TV) — This could be an upset special. With SIU-Edwardsville coming into Des Moines last weekend to take home the “Made for Drake” tourney, this sets up well with Drake’s Hy-Vee classic set for this weekend. I’m sure this was originally going to be the biggest game on Drake’s home schedule this coming season before the whole Binghamton scandal. Now it is a game to determine who has the best remaining roster.
12/13 — Niagara vs. Illinois St. — This will be the first real test for the Redbirds in a return of last season’s Bracketbusters game. Illinois St. is 7-0, but their opponent’s average RPI so far is 258, including four opponents currently in the 300s.