Checking In On… the Missouri Valley ConferencePosted by Brian Goodman on February 22nd, 2012
The Week That Was:
- Bracketbusters a Bust: Last weekend was the annual Bracketbusters event that the MVC has been involved in since its inception. In recent years, fans and even coaches haven’t been too fond of the Bracketbusters with the argument that being involved in this doesn’t help them. The fact remains that the Valley hasn’t really proved that they are past the Bracketbusters. In the five television games last weekend, the conference went 2-3 with league leaders Wichita State and Creighton the only ones to walk away with wins. As a whole, the league went 4-6. Missouri State and Northern Iowa were the big losers in this one in their losses to Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth. The CAA has dominated the MVC in this series.
- Shockers and Bluejays NCAA-Bound: Wichita State and Creighton have solidified their status as at-large teams for the NCAA Tournament with their wins this past weekend. The Shockers are ranked now in both polls while Creighton is hanging around just outside of the top 25. The latest projections have the Shockers as high as a #4 seed and Creighton around a #6 seed. Unless there is a total collapse, both of these teams should be in even if they do not win the MVC Tournament. They both could make a run once they do get to the NCAA’s.
- MVC Seeding Still in the Air: It’s the final week of the conference season and seeding for the middle six teams in the league is still to be decided with this week’s games. Illinois State, Missouri State, Evansville, Northern Iowa, Drake and Indiana State will all be fighting to stay out of the Thursday night play-in games in the MVC Tournament.
Power Rankings (last week’s ranking in parentheses)
Wichita State and Creighton are the clear top players in the Missouri Valley Conference this season. Any team in the middle of the league could emerge as a threat to get the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the MVC Tournament.
- Wichita State (24-4, 14-2) (1): Wichita State is on a roll and appear to be the best non-power six conference team in the nation. They are 12-1 since losing to Creighton on New Year’s Eve and do not look like they are letting up at all. Everything seems to be falling from the field, their defense has been solid and they have a big guy that can shoot the three. All great tools for a postseason run. Head coach Gregg Marshall hopes that Wichita State can now get the media coveragethey deserve.
- Creighton (24-5, 13-4) (2): Creighton spent its week trying to survive — first with a come-from-behind win against Long Beach State with an Antoine Young buzzer-beater and then another comeback job, this one in overtime over Evansville Tuesday. Both games were at home. One thing about Creighton that has helped them this season has been the walk-ons.
- Illinois State (17-11, 8-8) (5): If you said Illinois State would be in this position going into the last week of the season, I wouldn’t have believed it. However, they have been somewhat consistent and the only team in the 3-6 spot that went 1-1 this week. With no seniors on the roster, there is a lot to look forward to for the Redbirds.
- Missouri State (16-13, 9-7) (3): Missouri State has lost two in a row including a loss at Bracketbusters against Old Dominion. Kyle Weems has done his best to keep the Bears in the race for third, but limited contributions from Caleb Patterson and Jamar Gulley have kept them from being a little better. However, they still can get the #3 seed in the MVC Tournament.
- Evansville (14-14, 8-9) (8): Evansville won its Bracketbuster game and gave Creighton all they could handle, leading most of the game until Creighton rallied to send it to over time and the Aces went home with a loss. Colt Ryan and Denver Holmescombined to score 68 of Evansville’s 92 points. This team could be really dangerous in the MVC Tournament.
- Northern Iowa (17-12, 7-9) (4): The Panthers are folding down the stretch similar to last season. They have lost three of their last four games and are in danger of falling into the Thursday night game in the MVC Tournament. VCU plays a different style of basketball that doesn’t fit with Northern Iowa which kept them from getting an upset. Couple that with a last second loss to Evansville and that spells out the season right there. One bright spot is Deon Mitchell, who could be playing himself into the MVC Freshman of the Year.
- Drake (15-13, 8-8) (6): Drake was dismantled by New Mexico State in Bracketbusters and really put a dent into the Bulldogs confidence headed into the last week of the conference season. They finish up the season against Southern Illinois and Wichita State. They are still without Ben Simons. Without him, it may be tough for Drake to win another game this season.
- Indiana State (16-12, 7-9) (7): The Sycamores won two of their last three games and get some big games against Missouri State and Creighton to finish the season. However, Jake Odum has added another injury, this time to his shin, that he will have to play through. They need him to make a run in St. Louis. They are still looking for that heart and desire that was there last season.
- Southern Illinois (8-20, 5-11) (9): After letting Creighton shoot 77.5% from the field a week ago, it is hard to believe head coach Chris Lowery will be back in Carbondale next season. Could Bruce Weber make a return? Defensive confusion contributed to the last two opponents to shoot 24-26 from three, but at this point in the season, that should not be happening.
- Bradley (7-22, 2-14) (10) – Bradley is trying to look at the positives of this season to try and build into the next. Head coach Geno Ford has had to laugh to not cry with the season that the Braves have had. It continues to be a process for them. To make matters worse, Taylor Brown is injured and will be held out of the game against Northern Iowa for sure.
The final games of the regular season are this week. There are plenty of showdowns with MVC seeding implications.
- Wednesday, 2/22—Wichita State @ Illinois State (Local TV)—The Shockers will try to clinch the MVC regular season title outright with a win over the Redbirds. Illinois State could be a surprise with a three or four-seed in the MVC Tournament.
- Wednesday, 2/22—Indiana State @ Missouri State—This could be big for seeding purposes. The Sycamores are trying to stay out of Thursday night while the Bears are trying to break a two-game losing streak and tumbling down the standings themselves at the end.
- Saturday, 2/25—Drake @ Wichita State (Fox Sports Net / ESPN3 & FC)—Drake was the last team to beat Wichita State in a triple overtime thriller in Des Moines. It will be hard for them to do it again on senior day in Wichita.
- Saturday, 2/25—Creighton @ Indiana State (ESPN2/ESPN3)—Based on last season, this was projected to be a pretty good game to end the season. The Sycamores have made a late season run after starting the conference season 2-7.
- 2/25—Missouri State @ Evansville—A couple of weeks ago, it looked like Missouri State had a nice strong hold on third place in the standings. That is not the case anymore and this game could decide whether the Bears have the 3-seed or the 6-seed.
POY Stock Watch
Here are our top five in our player Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year watch. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses)
- Doug McDermott, Creighton (2)—McDermott came up huge against Long Beach State with 36 points and 11 rebounds in the come from behind win. However, McDermott struggled against Evansville but still scored 21 points. He has been the most consistent player all season in the MVC.
- Garrett Stutz, Wichita State (1)—Stutz was pretty unstoppable against Missouri State with 21 points but was held to 8 points against Davidson in Bracketbusters. It could be a battle in the last two games to see if he can help lead Wichita State to victory and steal away Player of the Year honors from McDermott.
- Colt Ryan, Evansville (5)—Ryan has continued to be a scoring threat this past week scoring 20 points or more in all three games played this week, including a career high 43 against Creighton. But in addition to his points, he has also managed to distribute the ball as well averaging over 7 assists a game.
- Kyle Weems, Missouri State (3)—Weems was only 10-of-32 from the field in the two losses by the Bears this week. The reigning MVC Player of the Year has not been enough for Missouri State this season, but has still been a solid player and held together a rebuilding team.
- Joe Ragland, Wichita State (NR)–Ragland has been the quiet spark plug for Wichita State this season. His latest contribution was 30 points and 7 rebounds in the victory over Davidson. Although he won’t get player of the year, without him, Wichita State wouldn’t have had the success they had this season.