Checking in on… the Missouri Valley

Posted by jstevrtc on December 14th, 2009

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Patrick Marshall of White and Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.

Current Records and My Standings (Last Week’s Rank)

  1. Missouri St. (9-0) (1)
  2. Wichita St. (9-1) (2)
  3. Northern Iowa (7-1) (5)
  4. Illinois St. (7-1) (3)
  5. Southern Illinois (5-2) (8)
  6. Bradley (5-3) (4)
  7. Indiana St. (6-3) (6)
  8. Evansville (4-3) (7)
  9. Drake (5-5) (10)
  10. Creighton (3-5) (9)

STORIES OF THE WEEK

  • Missouri St. wins two more games.  The Bears are continuing to win, much to the chagrin of my pre-season rankings. I thought they would have at least 3 losses by now. Home court advantage was probably a help to their early success, but they also have two wins on the road and are in the middle of a three-game road trip. It would be pretty amazing if they finish the non-conference season undefeated by getting road wins at St. Louis and Arkansas, both very winnable games.
  • Creighton loses on the road again.  Creighton is now 0-5 on the road this season and could finish 2009 with a losing record which would be the first time in a long time. This week it was to George Mason as they led most of the game and collapsed in the last few minutes of the game, helped by a technical foul on coach Dana Altman with 18 seconds left in the game with Creighton up by two.  Creighton lost the game, 75-72.
  • Shockers looking pretty good.  Other than the loss to Pittsburgh in the CBE Classic, Wichita State  is playing some good basketball lately and have gained a lot of confidence with a couple road wins at UMKC and Cleveland State as well as some guarantee games at Koch Arena.  They will be a force come conference play.
  • UNI sweeps Iowa teams.  For the first time since 2006-07 season, UNI beat both Iowa and Iowa St. in the annual matchup between the Iowa schools. The Panthers are on a roll as of late and creating quite the resume’ with wins over Iowa, Iowa St., Boston College, and Siena.

TEAMS DOING WELL

Missouri State (2-0 this week).  Missouri St. has to be taken seriously at this point. They are undefeated and have winnable games to finish the non-conference season. Kyle Weems and Adam Leonard continue to team up to lead the Bears. Arkansas St. gave them their biggest test this past week and they overcame the adversity.  They will have another road test against St. Louis this week.

Wichita St (2-0 this week).  The Shockers have been winning games, but a lot of them lately haven’t been very close.  A couple of closer games might not be bad for this team, to see how they’d react.  TCU was supposed to be a bit of a test and it was an interesting game that had three technical fouls against TCU and a warning to the crowd to cool down.  This week Wichita St. hosts Texas Tech for their next test.

Northern Iowa (2-0 this week).  With the way UNI disposed of Siena Saturday night, it is time for people to lose the notion that Northern Iowa won’t be tough this season. All five starters finished in double figures; UNI is poised to make a splash and others will have to take notice.  The Northern Iowa players are starting to talk about how they want to be the impact team in this year’s NCAA Tournament.  They have an interesting matchup this week as the Panthers take a trip to North Dakota.

Southern Illinois (2-0 this week).  Southern Illinois turned their road woes around this week with a victory at Southeast Missouri State.  Unfortunately, they will be without JUCO transfer Jack Crowder for two weeks after strained his right shoulder.  Everyone expected Tony Freeman to make an impact for the Salukis and he is doing just that as he is on a torrid shooting pace right now.  In the two games this week, he shot 14-22 from the floor and 10-17 from three-point range.  Southern Illinois is flying under the radar right now, so look out for them.  This weekend they head to Las Vegas to play San Diego and San Francisco.

Drake (2-0 this week).  Josh Young has been working his way back from a hip pointer injury and he and the other seniors on this team decided to carry the Bulldogs on their shoulders this weekend as they won their Hyvee Classic tourney.  Drake hits the road to in-state rival Iowa this week and anything can happen in that one.

TEAMS WITH WORK TO DO

Bradley (0-1 this week).  Bradley not only lost this week, but also lost one of their assistant coaches. Steve Merfeld left the team unexpectedly this week amid some weird circumstances. It is interesting that you would ask one of your assistants to leave the team in the middle of the season. It must have affected the team enough that they lost to Western Carolina soon after. This week Bradley tries to rebound with games against Loyola-Chicago and Iowa State.

Creighton (0-1 this week).  There must be something in the air with referees doing Missouri Valley Conference games this week (in reference to the Wichita St. game mentioned above) as Creighton lost in the final minutes against George Mason. During the breakdown, Coach Dana Altman was called for a technical foul with only 18 seconds remaining in the game and the Bluejays were up 2 points. They ended up losing by three and head back to Omaha now 0-5 on the road this season.

Evansville (0-1 this week).  Evansville started off strong but lost a winnable game against Western Kentucky this week, 63-57, but out of it is the continued emergence of freshman Colt Ryan as a leader for the Purple Aces as he finished with a career high 23 points. Georgia Southern and Tennessee-Martin come into Roberts Stadium this week.

Illinois St. (1-1 this week).  Niagara exposed the Redbirds weakness that Osiris Eldridge is the one-man show for the Redbirds this season as he went 5-of-18 from the field and 2-of-11 from three, and they beat the Redbirds, 76-68. Even though Illinois St. outrebounded them 49-28, it wasn’t enough. Going into the Sunday’s game Dinma Odiakosa was second in the nation in field goal percentage.  They now have to regroup for a two-game road trip at Ohio and Utah this week.

Indiana State (1-1 this week).  Indiana State lost to Ball State this week, but rebounded to beat Oral Roberts. With all the newcomers Kevin McKenna has brought to this team this season, two players that played significant minutes last season, Jordan Printy and Aaron Carter, have had their minutes go down significantly this season.  Indiana St. hits the road to Toledo this week.

WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH

The Valley has another week to get into the spotlight:

  • 12/19—Drake @ Iowa (Big 10 Network)—With the struggles both teams have had this season, it should be an interesting game.
  • 12/19—Illinois St. @ Utah (The Mtn.)—Illinois St. gets its first quality opponent in this game. It could establish more credibility for this team.
  • 12/19—Missouri St. @ St. Louis (Local TV in both markets)—Missouri St. tries to stay undefeated as they are on a three game road trip.
  • 12/19—Creighton @ New Mexico (The Mtn.)—Creighton has another road game with a quality opponent. This time, it is against undefeated New Mexico as one of the final games of the MVC/MWC Challenge heats things up.
  • 12/19—Texas Tech @ Wichita St. (Local TV in Kansas)—A chance for the Shockers to get a quality win against the Big 12.
  • 12/20—Bradley @ Iowa St. (ESPN FC)—Iowa St. took two tours already with the MVC in the annual matchups with Drake and UNI, but now Bradley gets in on the action.
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