Checking In On… the Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 14th, 2011

Patrick Marshall is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference. You can also find his musings online at White & Blue Review or on Twitter @wildjays.

Reader’s Take 

 

The Week That Was:

  • Teams Being Sneaky: While the focus has been on Creighton by the media for most of the season, a couple of other teams are making some noise without a whole lot of fanfare.  Northern Iowa has won eight games in a row since the loss at St. Mary’s while Wichita State has a five-game winning streak of their own including wins over UNLV, Tulsa and Utah State.  The Bluejays may be slightly favored, but once the MVC gets into conference play, all bets are off.  This could be the year the Valley has been waiting for.
  • An RPI Update: The Missouri Valley Conference has four teams in the top 33 of the RPI this week. Northern Iowa leads the way at #4 followed by Creighton (#16), Wichita State (#32), and Indiana State (#33).  With these top four teams continuing to play well, heads will continue to turn.
  • Southern Illinois at Rock Bottom: After an 11-day break and a chance to regroup with their 1-3 record, the Salukis came out this week and lost at home against Western Kentucky and on the road at Western Michigan in two more uninspiring outings. This once proud team is hitting rock bottom. The bigger question now is whether Chris Lowery will make it through this season. It is possible for SIU to be 1-7 when they head out to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic.

Gregg Marshall And The Shockers Are Scooping Up Quality Wins Left And Right.

Power Rankings

  1. Northern Iowa (9-1)—Northern Iowa switched spots with Creighton this week based on their great play and because their only loss was against St. Mary’s who currently ranks atop the RealtimeRPI. The Panthers have quietly had a nice run and have steadily improved over the past three weeks. Their sweep of Iowa and Iowa State make them the state champion among the four Division I Iowa schools. In addition, only Northern Iowa and Kentucky have wins over the Big Ten, Big 12 and Big East this year. Jake Koch is keeping the Koch tradition in being an impact player for Northern Iowa. He came up with 21 points in the win over Milwaukee and has continued to improve as the season has gone along. His brother Adam was the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in the 2009-10 season. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 7th, 2011

Patrick Marshall is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.   You can also find his musings online at White & Blue Review or on Twitter @wildjays.

Reader’s Take 

 

The Week That Was

  • The MVC/MWC Challenge Runs To A Draw: Over the weekend, the Missouri Valley and Mountain West Conferences played the third annual MVC/MWC Challenge games.  With only eight teams left in the current Mountain West, there were only eight games played.  Although Boise State played two MVC teams in the past few weeks, only one of those games was a part of the Challenge.  The two biggest games involved Creighton and Wichita State.  The Bluejays came back from 17 points down in the first half to escape San Diego State with a victory.   On the other side of the coin, Wichita State destroyed UNLV behind Joe Ragland’s 31 points.  The Challenge will finish out in the 2012-13 season.
  • Valley RPI Rising: The MVC has been having some pretty good non-conference success this year.  So good, in fact, that the Valley heads into this week with the seventh highest conference RPI.  This is quite a difference from sitting at #11 last season at the same time.  With Northern Iowa, Creighton, Indiana State, Wichita State and Missouri State all in the top 41 in the RPI, things are looking great for multiple NCAA bids this year.
  • Creighton In The Top Twenty: With several teams ahead of the Bluejays losing, Creighton moved up to #17 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll and they make their debut in the AP poll sitting at #19.  In the AP poll, this represents Creighton’s first appearance since November 2006 and their highest ranking since March 2003.
  • Ragland Has His Day: Wichita State’s Joe Ragland created a little history in the big win over UNLV.  He was the first Shocker since 2006 that scored more than 30 points in a game.  He was dead-on from behind the arc, going 8-9 against UNLV.  In the two games this week, he was 14-18 from the field and 11-13 from behind the three point line.

Joe Ragland Sliced And Shot His Way To A 30-Point Game In The Shockers' Win Over The Runnin' Rebels Sunday. (MVC-Sports.com)

Power Rankings

  1. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Missouri Valley

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 30th, 2011

Patrick Marshall is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.   You can also find his musings online at White & Blue Review or on Twitter @wildjays.

Reader’s Take

The Week That Was:

  • Creighton Continues Up the Top 25—With a lot of teams in the lower part of the top 25 losing this week, Creighton moved up in the coaches poll from #25 to #23 while also receiving more votes in the AP poll putting them at #26. So far the Bluejays have not disappointed including their 104-81 victory over Campbell and winning the Dale Howard Classic.
  • Valley Stock Rising—The Missouri Valley Conference has had some great success so far in the non-conference season. There are only 27 teams in Division I still undefeated. Only three non-BCS leagues still have undefeated teams. Two of those teams are Creighton (5-0) and Missouri State (4-0). The Valley is 37-16 so far including a 24-4 home mark.
  • Northern Iowa Bounces Back—The Panthers made an impressive showing in South Padre by getting wins against Rice and Providence. Since the loss at St. Mary’s, Northern Iowa has won their last four and are getting good contributions from players like Seth Tuttle, who averaged 11 points and 6.3 rebounds in the last three games. 

Greg Lansing And Jake Odum Have The Sycamores On The Rise. (Matt Kryger/Indianapolis Star)

Power Rankings

  1. Creighton (5-0)— Creighton continues to roll along. In their only game this week, the Bluejays started the game hitting their first 13 shots of the game putting them up 18 points early on Campbell. Creighton continued to blister the nets the rest of the game and set a school record shooting 70.4% from the field for the game. Creighton also dished out 30 assists on 38 baskets for the game. They currently lead the nation in assists while placing third in points per game.
  2. Indiana State (6-1)—The Sycamores continue to build upon last year’s success by playing with a lot of poise during the Old Spice Classic. After beating Texas Tech in the first round, the Sycamores took it to the wire against Minnesota before losing to the Gophers. Indiana State rebounded to get a win over Fairfield to take third place.  Five players finished in double-figures. The balanced scoring right now by Indiana State will keep opponents off balance. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 23rd, 2011

Patrick Marshall is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.   You can also find his musings online at White & Blue Review or on Twitter @wildjays.

Reader’s Take

The Week That Was:

  • Creighton Cracks The Polls—This week, for the first time since March 2007, the Bluejays are ranked in one of the major polls.  They check in at #25 in the USA Today Coaches poll.  The last team from the MVC to be ranked by the coaches was Northern Iowa, which was 13th in the final USA Today Coaches poll at the conclusion of the 2009-10 campaign.  While many saw Creighton as a sleeper this season, they now have a large target on their back.
  • Wichita State Falls Short—Last season, Wichita State faltered in the Maui Invitational by missing some opportunities to get some big name wins and did not have everything completely come together until they won the postseason NIT.  This season, they also struggled to get the wins they need from their exempt tournament, the Puerto Rico Tip-off.  They did beat Colorado, but then lost to Alabama and Temple. The good news is that they probably have a few more opportunities outside of this tournament this season.
  • Seat on Fire In Carbondale—Many knew that Chris Lowery was on the hot seat at Southern Illinois coming into this season.  Three games in, the question is whether he should have been allowed to come back this season after all.  With an 0-3 start, including a loss against Division II Ohio Dominican, this could be another long season in Carbondale.

The McDermotts Have Creighton Crashing The Polls In November.

Power Rankings

  1. Creighton (4-0)—Creighton has started the season on a roll and they appear to have the pieces surrounding Doug McDermott to make it a special year. Creighton won their first three games largely without the need of scoring from center Gregory Echenique, but after beating Iowa on Sunday, Echenique is in the mix now on the offensive end. Grant Gibbs has played like another point guard on the court taking some pressure off of Antoine Young. Right now there is a lot of unselfish play with 56 assists on 66 baskets in the first two games and 86 assists on 125 field goals for the season. Read the rest of this entry »
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RTC Conference Primers: #12 – Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 25th, 2011

Patrick Marshall of White & Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.  You can find him on Twitter @wildjays.

Reader’s Take I


Top Storylines

  • Back to Multiple Bids?: The Missouri Valley Conference is getting a little more attention entering this season than in the past, and rightfully so.  Six of the top ten scorers in the league are back along with four of the top five rebounders.  The league is looking to have the impact it had back in the 2005-06 season, when it sent four teams to the NCAA Tournament.  Since then, only the automatic qualifier from the MVC Tournament has advanced to The Dance. With so many talented upperclassmen, there could be an opportunity for The Valley to get closer to that status of six years ago.
  • Kyle Weems or Doug McDermott?: There are a lot of people that have probably forgotten that Kyle Weems of Missouri State was the MVC Player of the Year last season with all the buzz that Creighton’s Doug McDermott received over the summer.  Going into 2011-12, one hotly-debated topic is whether Weems can repeat or if McDermott will build upon his MVC Freshman of the Year performance.  McDermott was only the second freshman in the 100-year-plus history of the MVC to get first team all-conference honors.  Weems tried to lead Missouri State to the NCAA Tournament, but came up just short.  Due to the personnel losses by the Bears, including their coach, and all of the returning players for the Bluejays, can Weems surprise the “experts” and have even better success to repeat?

Kyle Weems May Be The Best Player In A Resurgent MVC This Season. (MVC-Sports.com)

  • New Ford Center: Evansville will start the season in a new downtown arena, the Ford Center.  They open it in style with in-state powers Butler and Indiana visiting to start the season.  This building represents the continual facility improvements for the Missouri Valley Conference member schools.  Creighton started the trend with the Qwest Center (recently renamed CenturyLink Center).  Northern Iowa followed suit with its own basketball building in the McLeod Center.  Missouri State opened JQH Arena a couple years later and in Wichita, a new arena was built to complement Koch Arena as a place where the Shockers can play a game or two a year.  Southern Illinois spent almost $30 million to renovate SIU Arena.  So if you are looking for a conference that keeps upgrading the basketball environment like a major conference, this is where you should go.
  • Scheduling Philosophies: In the past, the MVC member schools would hold back a game on their schedules to try to get a home-and-home series against a high-major school.  Although this has worked out in the past, it sort of backfired this season.  As a result, many of the final games scheduled for each team will come against a non-Division I school, and in other cases, a game was not even scheduled, leaving a gap between the end of the regular season slate and the conference tournament.  Creighton and Illinois State chose to schedule one game fewer than the number of games they could have scheduled while the rest of the schools scheduled the likes of Loras College, Emporia State, Upper Iowa, Maryville and others as a regular season game on the schedule.  With almost 350 teams in Division-I, that isn’t a good sign for a non-major, major conference.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 22nd, 2011

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

A Look Back

  • BracketBustedThere have been many comments over the past few years by coaches and fans about how the BracketBusters concept has been overloaded and that it does not help teams.  After the Missouri Valley Conference’s performance this past weekend in the event, it is obvious that they do not take it seriously.  While this used to be an event that featured the MVC, it has turned into an event to feature the Colonial and the Horizon instead and the MVC walks away as a laughingstock.  The three games featuring Valley teams were losses (Missouri State, Wichita State and Northern Iowa) and the league went 3-7 over the weekend with only #7 Drake, #8 Southern Illinois and #9 Bradley getting wins.  The Valley, everyone!
  • Don’t Expect More Than OneWhile last week I talked about the possibility of the MVC getting two bids to the NCAA Tournament, do not expect that now.  On top of the horrible Bracketbusters performances, this past week, the NCAA again invited several media members to take part in a Mock Bracketing exercise where they went through the process of putting together the teams that would participate in the NCAA Tournament.  In their proceedings, Northern Iowa won the MVC tournament and got the league’s automatic bid.  In their discussions the rest of the way, contenders like Wichita State and Missouri State were discussed little or not at all.  And this was all before BracketBusters this weekend.   So expect the MVC to be a one-bid league for the fourth season in a row.
  • Saluki StupidityThere are definitely some chemistry problems with the Southern Illinois basketball team.  Information came out this week on the reason for the three game suspensions of starters Gene Teague, Mykel Cleveland and reserve Troy Long.   They used airsoft rifles to shoot teammate Davante Drinkard and another unidentified victim in a borrowed women’s basketball player car while Cleveland also had an expired driver’s license.   This all happened the evening after Saluki head coach Chris Lowery said his team quit playing in their blowout loss to Drake at SIU Arena.
  • Final WeekThe league focuses on the final week of the regular season and the battle in St. Louis for the NCAA Tournament bid.  Wichita State and Missouri State will fight for the top two spots while Northern Iowa, Indiana State, Creighton and Evansville will set themselves up for the 3-6 seeds.  It will likely be Drake, Southern Illinois, Bradley and Illinois State playing on Thursday night.
  • Player of the Week— Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Northern Iowa—The senior continues to shine for Northern Iowa averaging 25 points and 5 assists per game this past week.  Although the Panthers split their games, Ahelegbe has picked up the slack for Northern Iowa as they finish up the season.  Ahelegbe has had nine games with more than 20 points this season.
  • Newcomer of the Week—Doug McDermott, Creighton—McDermott continues his Valley record-setting season, averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game this week.  He has been very consistent and has not hit that freshman wall that most players do at some point during the season.  Creighton will need him to be playing well headed to St. Louis.

Power Rankings (Record) (Conference Record)  (Last week rank)

  1. Wichita State (22-6) (13-3) (2)— The Shockers move up to the top spot heading into the final week basically because they were closer than Missouri State was in winning their respective BracketBuster game.  They were 0.8 seconds away from winning against VCU, but played behind most of the way.  Joe Lunardi had them going from last four in to the first four out in his bracketology.  They did get a win at Evansville earlier in the week and at least they have dedicated fans.   It will be hard for Wichita State to stay in the top spot, hosting Creighton and finishing things up at Missouri State.
  2. Missouri State (21-7) (13-3) (1)— The Bears have to pick themselves off the ground after getting just beat up at Valparaiso in the BracketBusters.  That was a huge loss for Missouri State where a win would have gained them consideration as an at-large contender.  With Missouri State having so much success this season, it has now become fashionable to go to Bear basketball games.  They go to Southern Illinois before hosting Wichita State in what should be a packed JQH Arena.  They need to win from here on out to get into the NCAA Tournament.
  3. Northern Iowa (19-10) (10-6) (3)— The Panthers looked like they  had finally gotten over the loss of Lucas O’Rear with a win on the road at Bradley on Wednesday and had momentum going into the BracketBusters game against George Mason.  Northern Iowa looked good early against the Patriots, but ran out of gas down the stretch and made some crucial mistakes.  They could fall in the MVC tourney seeding if they lose a couple more, and it is a real possibility.  They host Indiana State before going to Creighton.
  4. Indiana State (15-13) (10-6) (5)— The Sycamores move up in the rankings despite their loss in the BracketBuster against Morehead State where they were outworked.  Their conference record is still better than Creighton’s and Indiana State has shown that they can win on the road. They swept all of the Illinois teams (Southern Illinois, Illinois State, and Bradley) on the road for the first time in school history.   They go to Northern Iowa this week before finishing up with Senior Day against Southern Illinois.
  5. Creighton (17-12) (9-7) (4)— The Bluejay’s road woes continue.  With the loss at Akron this weekend, they have now lost six in a row away from Qwest Center Omaha.   They head to Wichita State on Wednesday this week and if history is any indication, don’t expect a road win there.  Doug McDermott continues to be a bright spot being only the third freshman in Missouri Valley Conference history to get over 400 points and 200 rebounds.  Another bright spot is the fact that Creighton ranks second in the nation in sending opponents to the free-throw line only 14.2 times a game.   They finish the regular season hosting Northern Iowa with a checkerboard game.  
  6. Evansville (14-13) (8-8) (6)— The Aces have lost four of their last five games and may be running out of steam down the stretch with their latest losses against Wichita State and Murray State.  They fought hard against the Shockers while turnovers did them in against the Racers. They do have an opportunity to get a couple wins to finish the season against teams at the bottom of the league—Drake and Illinois State.  They need these wins to stay out of Thursday night in the MVC Tournament.  They will also be closing Roberts Stadium with their final game this week. 
  7. Drake (12-16) (6-10) (7)— Drake was the best team in the league to get a win at BracketBusters by defeating Detroit getting their highest scoring output since December.  They hope the momentum can carry them into the last week of the season against Evansville and Bradley.  If they get those wins, there is a slight possibility they may not have to play Thursday night and get into the top six, which could make them a tough out in the MVC Tournament.
  8. Southern Illinois (12-16) (5-11) (9)—At least Southern Illinois can say they won their BracketBuster game albeit in the final seconds against Green Bay.  Saluki fans are anxiously waiting for the season to be over after another subpar season.  They may get some satisfaction in ruining things for Missouri State on Wednesday night and messing up the seeding for Indiana State. Justin Bocot returned to action for the Salukis on Saturday night and contributed.  It is too bad the Senior had to suffer through so many injuries this season.  He might have made more of a difference for the Salukis if he was healthy all season.
  9. Bradley (10-18) (3-13) (8)—The Braves have shown some signs of life towards the end of the season, but it may not be enough for Jim Les to keep his job in Peoria.  The local media and fans see a lot that is unacceptable, including Les’ propensity to draw technical fouls.   They still have to go to their rival Illinois State this week which could be the deciding game there. 
  10. Illinois State (11-17) (3-13) (10)—Illinois State is not finishing strong and has lost their last six games.  Going into last week’s game they did not have a player averaging in double figures in scoring.  Jackie Carmichael and Austin Hill were averaging 9.9 points a game.  With Carmichael out against Creighton, Hill scored a career high 27 points.   Amazingly enough, they have a good possibility of finishing off the season with a couple of wins against Bradley and Evansville. 

A Look Ahead

The final week of conference season will decide the conference championship and seeding for the MVC Tournament.

  • 2/22—Indiana State @ Northern Iowa—The battle for the three-seed in the MVC tournament will be on the line.
  • 2/23—Creighton @ Wichita State (Fox Sports Net)— These two teams do not like each other, and it will be a physical battle.  Creighton wants to spoil the Shockers’ opportunity for a conference championship while Wichita State needs this win to setup the showdown in Springfield with Missouri State.
  • 2/26—Northern Iowa @ Creighton (Fox Sports Net)—Senior day at Creighton is a tough place to get a win and this game could have seeding implications for the MVC Tournament.
  • 2/26—Wichita State @ Missouri State (ESPN2)—The likely showdown for the MVC regular season championship.  Missouri State took the game in Wichita and the Shockers are looking for payback.

Other National TV Games This Week:

  • 2/22—Bradley @ Illinois State (Fox Sports Net)
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 15th, 2011

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

A Look Back

  • Battle for SeedingThe last two weeks of the season will be about seeding for the MVC Tournament.  No one wants to be the team that has to play four consecutive days for a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.  Indiana State, Creighton, Evansville, and Drake are fighting to stay out of that #7-seed hole.
  • Unpredictable ValleyIf you don’t pay attention to the Missouri Valley Conference for a period of time, you will get lost on everything happening in the league with the surprise upsets and close games.  Wichita State was beaten by Southern Illinois on their home court.  Northern Iowa lost Lucas O’Rear and they have gone from a possible third straight MVC championship to trying to stay out of the play-in game in St. Louis.  Last-place Bradley has won three of their last four after starting 0-11 in conference play.  Indiana State and Evansville could finish in the top four, which has been unheard of.  Hold on tight, it will be a crazy ride.
  • Multiple Bids?—Joe Lunardi has had Missouri State and Wichita State in his bracket for the past couple of weeks and the Bears and Shockers have separated themselves in the Valley race.  However, if the MVC wants to make sure they really are a multiple-bid league this season, Missouri State and Wichita State has a small margin of error.  They will definitely need to win their Bracketbuster games this weekend and play into the finals of the MVC Tournament.  At worst, one of the two will need to make the finals of the MVC tournament for the league to get two teams in this season.  Otherwise, the MVC will again be a one-bid league for the fourth year in a row. With these odds, who knows who will win the conference tournament.
  • Player of the Week— Kyle Weems, Missouri State—The potential MVC Player of the Year continues his march, averaging  23 points and six rebounds a game, which also includes 7-13 from three-point range in their two wins this week against Bradley and Illinois State.  Those numbers come with only playing 28 minutes a game in both contests.  Missouri State is very tough to stop when he gets going.
  • Newcomer of the Week— Jake Odum, Indiana State—The freshman continues to lead the Sycamores.  He averaged over 16 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in their two wins this week against Illinois State and Drake.   He drives the offense for Indiana State.

Power Rankings (Record) (Conference Record) (Last week rank)

  1. Missouri State (20-6) (12-3) (2)— The Bears are back on the winning track this week with wins over Bradley and Illinois State.  Missouri State is known for man-to-man defense, but they broke out the zone last week and expect to see it more.   They are winning the games they need to be winning and will need to continue that this week when they host Drake on Tuesday before stepping out of conference in the BracketBusters against Valparaiso.
  2. Wichita State (21-5) (12-3) (1)— Wichita State was stunned at home when Southern Illinois came to town and knocked off the Shockers.  However they took that fury out on the road at Northern Iowa where they just shut down the Panthers and walked away with a dominant victory.  The Shockers hope they have found their point guard in Joe Raglund.  They will have a couple more big tests this week against the surging Evansville Purple Aces before hosting Virginia Commonwealth as one of the feature games on BracketBusters Friday night. 
  3. Northern Iowa (18-9) (9-6) (3)—The Panthers have continued to struggle without Lucas O’Rear and have lost three games in a row since the injury.  Coach Ben Jacobson says they miss O’Rear, but that they just need to play better.   Northern Iowa is fading down the stretch and will likely be bunched up in the 3-7 positions in the conference and will need to get things going to get the best seed possible in the MVC Tournament, but there is no doubt that the rest of their season is in murky waters.   They go to Bradley who have won three of the past four and then host George Mason in BracketBusters. 
  4. Creighton (16-11) (8-7) (4)— Creighton is really struggling with winning on the road in the MVC.  After starting 3-0 on the road to begin MVC play, the Bluejays have lost their last five on the road and continue to be lacking two to three plays a game that they need in order to win.  Illinois State comes to town before hitting the road to Akron which would be a lot better matchup in men’s soccer than men’s basketball.  They played a full 40 minutes against Southern Illinois on Sunday night, probably their first 40 full minutes of great play all season.  Doug McDermott isn’t Harrison Barnes, but he has made a splash this season of historic proportions
  5. Indiana State (14-12) (9-6) (6)— Indiana State is back on the winning track after losing five in a row with wins over Illinois State and Drake this week.  The Sycamores start what constitutes “the rest” of the MVC after the top three teams.   The key here is seeding for the MVC tournament where that is their only chance to get to the NCAA Tournament.  They go to Southern Illinois this week before hosting Morehead State as a part of the BracketBusters.   Jake Odum is the one who makes or breaks the success for Indiana State.   But their bench is pretty helpful too.
  6. Evansville (14-11) (8-7) (5)—The Purple Aces have had an up and down week, first, taking advantage of Northern Iowa’s troubles and knocking them off, but then couldn’t keep down last place Bradley.  Scary, but if you look at teams that might make a run in the MVC Tournament and get the auto-bid for the NCAA Tournament, you could put some money on Evansville right now as they could be the surprise.  Colt Ryan is known as their scorer, but senior Kavon Lacey has stepped up his game, making them tougher.   They get to host Wichita State this week before getting a nice matchup in BracketBusters with Murray State.  A couple wins here, and people will have to be on the lookout. 
  7. Drake (11-15) (6-9) (7)—Drake’s up and down season continues with a home victory against Creighton and a road letdown at Indiana State.  Like Creighton, the Bulldogs have troubles winning on the road in conference play sitting at 1-6 in such contests.  They hit the road again to Missouri State on Tuesday, so expect that record to go to 1-7.  Then they host Detroit on Saturday.  Ryan Wedel is trying to be the leader of this team and hopes to lead them into the improbable postseason. 
  8. Bradley (9-17) (3-12) (8)—The Braves are all of a sudden the hottest team in the Valley right now and is creating headaches for the rest of the league.  They have won three of their last four and gave Missouri State all they could handle in getting that one loss.  They are now playing with nothing to lose and getting a couple wins makes them spoilers for the rest of the season.  They try to spoil Northern Iowa’s season on Tuesday before hitting the road to Tennessee-Martin in the BracketBuster matchup.
  9. Southern Illinois (11-15) (5-10) (10)—After having one of their worst weeks ever last week, the Salukis have bounced back to have an average one.  First they knocked off Wichita State in one of the more surprising upsets of the season but then laid a huge egg against Creighton.  The Salukis have suffered from recruiting the wrong players and the long term effects have been catastrophic and patience is wearing thin.   They now get two home games this week with Indiana State and Wisconsin-Green Bay.
  10. Illinois State (11-15) (3-12) (9)—The Redbirds conference season has been full of streaks starting with losing their first eight, winning the next three, and are now suffering through another four game losing streak.  Illinois State tried their best to spoil some things for Missouri State but just came up short.   For a team that contended for conference championships the past few seasons, this has to be tough for Illinois State fans to understand why they have struggled so much this season.   They hit the road this week at Creighton and then to Western Michigan. 

A Look Ahead

The week starts with conference play, but then the big weekend of BracketBusters will be a big test for teams.

  • 2/15—Wichita State @ Evansville (Local TV)—Evansville is still playing well and a win against Wichita State will really put a wrench into the conference race, and the outside possibility of the MVC getting two bids this season.
  • 2/16—Indiana State @ Southern Illinois—Indiana State has one last run in them to finish in the top four in the league.  It starts with Southern Illinois.  The Salukis on the other hand are trying to save face for next season wondering if they will have a new coach or not.
  • 2/18—Virginia Commonwealth @ Wichita State (ESPN2)—This is definitely one of the feature games of the Bracketbusters weekend and will be one not to miss.  The CAA and the MVC have had some pretty good games over the past few seasons because of BracketBusters.  The Shockers need this one to get a quality win on their resume that is clearly missing.
  • 2/19—Missouri State @ Valparaiso (ESPN2)—This is the game that Missouri State fans wanted so they would not have to travel to the coasts for a game before the final week of MVC competition.
  • 2/19—George Mason @ Northern Iowa (ESPN2)—Northern Iowa feels they still have something to prove and they need this game more than George Mason does.  However, George Mason isn’t coming to lose and what looked like a great matchup has now lost some luster.

Other  Games on National TV This Week:

  • 2/15—Northern Iowa @ Bradley (Fox Sports Net)
  • 2/16—Illinois State @ Creighton (ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com)
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 8th, 2011

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

A Look Back

BracketBusters MatchupsBracketBuster matchups were announced last week, and the Missouri Valley Conference was awarded three games on national television.

  • 2/18, 6PM, ESPN2–VCU @ Wichita State
  • 2/19, 4PM, ESPN2Missouri State @ Valparaiso
  • 2/19, 6PM, ESPN2–George Mason @ Northern Iowa

The other matchups between the other conference members:

  • Creighton @ Akron
  • Evansville @ Murray State
  • Morehead State @ Indiana State
  • UW-Green Bay @ Southern Illinois
  • Illinois State @ Western Michigan
  • Detroit @ Drake
  • Bradley @ Tennessee-Martin

Bradley Has a Winning Week – After starting conference play 0-11, Bradley has reeled off a couple of wins against Creighton and Southern Illinois.  In the game against the Bluejays, the game was moved up four hours to avoid a snowstorm that still left Creighton stranded.  The Salukis on the other hand were blown out at home by Drake before coming to Bradley.  The Braves were able to take advantage of the other team’s struggles to garner a couple of wins and a glimmer of hope that Jim Les will be back next season.

Southern Illinois ImplodingIf you were watching last Wednesday night, you saw Southern Illinois get torched by Drake’s outside shooting.  What you may not have seen was Chris Lowery calling out his team, saying they “quit” during the game.   To make matters worse, at the end of the week, it was announced that three players, including two starters, were suspended for three games based on an assault incident on campus.   The SIU program has a lot to sort out.

Northern Iowa Suffers a BlowLucas O’Rear was injured Wednesday evening against Illinois State.  The man of much facial hair ended up suffering a fractured ankle and is now out for the rest of the season.  This is a big blow for the Panthers in their run back up the Valley standings.  Without him, Northern Iowa suffered a loss to Drake and now have to regroup for the final stretch run to try and get their third straight MVC regular season championship.

Player of the Week—Andrew Warren, Bradley—The play of Warren has been overshadowed by the performance of Bradley as a team this season.  However, the talented guard has been carrying this team on his shoulders and continued that this week.  He averaged 23 points and almost seven rebounds in the two victories against Creighton and Southern Illinois.

Newcomer of the Week—Rayvonte Rice, Drake—The freshman led the way for Drake this week in their two victories averaging 21 points a game over Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa this week.  In a year dominated by Doug McDermott from Creighton, Rice has been coming on as of late.  Both Rice and McDermott will lead their respective teams against each other this week.

Power Rankings (Record) (Conference Record) (Last week rank)

  1. Wichita State (20-4) (11-2) (1)—The Shockers have quietly made their way to the top and are holding on to the conference lead after two wins this week over Drake and Indiana State.  After Southern Illinois on Tuesday, the Shockers go on a tough run to end the season at Northern Iowa, at Evansville, the BracketBusters game against VCU, hosting Creighton and then finishing at Missouri State.   If Wichita State makes it through this stretch of games, they definitely deserve the MVC regular season crown.  One interesting note is that there has not been a Wichita State player that has won a weekly award from the MVC offices, and it has been suggested that they decline the award if a Shocker does get one. 
  2. Missouri State (18-6) (10-3) (3)— The Bears have hit a bit of a wall losing two of their last three and surviving against Indiana State on Saturday.  However, the schedule is favorable for Missouri State as four of their final five conference games are against teams at the bottom of the league.  It should make for an interesting race between the Bears and the Shockers.   A missing part of Missouri State’s team this year has been Adam Leonard. If the Bears are going to have a solid run to finish the season, Leonard is going to have to step things up.  He has spent extra time in the gym.  Hopefully for them, it reflects well down the stretch. 
  3. Northern Iowa (17-7) (9-4) (2)— The Panthers  had won eight in a row before and looked like they were rolling until Lucas O’Rear went down against Illinois State which led to the letdown against in-state rival Drake.  Three of the final five conference games are on the road including going to Evansville this week for what appears to be a typical “trap” game.  They then have a showdown with Wichita State on Saturday night which will decide if they still have a chance for the top of the mountain.  Will Dick Vitale actually be in Cedar Falls for their BracketBuster game?  I wouldn’t hold my breath. 
  4. Creighton (15-10) (7-6) (4)—The Bluejays endured the embarrassment of allowing Bradley to get their first conference win of the season.  They did rebound to knock off a hot Evansville team and are now putting themselves in a good position to secure a top-four seed in the MVC Tournament.   But they can’t let down against Drake and Southern Illinois this week.   Doug McDermott continues to put up some amazing numbers—such that he could earn himself awards at the end of the year, including a spot on the All-MVC team. 
  5. Evansville (13-10) (7-6) (6)— Evansville started off the week with a nice win against Missouri State even without leading rebounder and second leading scorer Kenneth Harris.   However, they ran into a Creighton team with something to prove and took down the Purple Aces to be tied for fourth place in the Valley race.  One thing is for sure, they will not be cellar dwellers this season and the team has made some great strides.  They get to host Northern Iowa this week before heading to Peoria to take on Bradley.
  6. Indiana State (12-12) (7-6) (5)— The Sycamores are coming back to earth after their hot conference start.  They have now lost five straight games after playing against the top teams in the league.  I guess they have to be satisfied with moral victories.   However a date with Illinois State and Drake might be what they need to finish off strong.  
  7. Drake (10-14) (5-8) (9)—Drake won both of their games this week and jumped out of the bottom of the league.  They hit 16 three-pointers their win against Southern Illinois and held off Northern Iowa to beat their in-state rival.  If it was up to Rayvonte Rice, he thinks they could go on a big run to get to the postseason.  Creighton comes to town on Tuesday before heading to Terre Haute for a date with Indiana State.
  8. Bradley (8-16) (2-11) (10)—Teams will take wins any way they can get them.  For Bradley, that first conference win came against Creighton.  With that win and a victory against Southern Illinois, who they caught at the right time, Bradley enjoys the month of February.  January was winless, but in February, they have two wins already.  They get to play the role of spoiler, going to Springfield to take on Missouri State and celebrate alumni weekend against Evansville.
  9. Illinois State (11-13) (3-10) (8)—The Redbirds are back to their struggling ways after winning three in a row.  It wasn’t a surprise that they lost to Wichita State and Northern Iowa, but they did keep things close.  Any game in the MVC is a possible upset and you never know what is going to happen.  They can spoil the party for everyone with the Sycamores and the Bears coming to town this week.
  10. Southern Illinois (10-14) (4-9) (7)— We have talked about already how Southern Illinois has hit rock bottom.  Fans are getting tired of the once proud program that will be missing the postseason for the third year in a row.  It will cost the school dearly to send Chris Lowery packing, but it may be the only option after spending millions of dollars remodeling SIU Arena and playing to a half full crowd.  One way or another, things must change

A Look Ahead

Look out for these games:

  • 2/8—Northern Iowa @ Evansville (No TV)—The Panthers are struggling without Lucas O’Rear and head for their second straight road game without him.  Evansville has been hot and could knock them off.
  • 2/8—Southern Illinois @ Wichita State (Local TV in both markets)—The Shockers are the dominant team in the league at this point and SIU is in shambles right now.  However, there is always a chance for a shock here, pardon the pun.
  • 2/9—Bradley @ Missouri State (Fox Sports Net)—Bradley has a couple conference wins under their belt and could play the role of spoiler.  Missouri State needs to keep winning.
  • 2/12—Wichita State @ Northern Iowa (ESPN2)—This is a big game for both teams, but even bigger for Northern Iowa to try and catch up to the Shockers.   The Shockers on the other hand are trying to pull away from the rest of the league.  A special 9PM CST start for this one.
  • 2/13—Southern Illinois @ Creighton (ESPNU)—Is this one of the final games in the Chris Lowery era at SIU?  Creighton is looking for a good seed for the MVC Tournament.  Oh yeah, and it is a rivalry game, but that is sort of lost in the mix at this point.
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 31st, 2011

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

A Look Back

Conference RPI vs. Other Mid-Majors SchoolsThe Missouri Valley Conference is really suffering in the RPI as a conference this season.  RPI Forecast has the conference ranked #12, just behind the Horizon but ahead of the WCC.  Things are even worse in the Pomeroy rankings, where the MVC stands 14th behind the WAC. The chance of being a multiple-bid conference gets slimmer by the week.

MVC/MWC Challenge Opponents AnnouncedThe Missouri Valley Conference and the Mountain West Conference have announced the matchups for next year’s MVC/MWC Challenge.  The winter of 2011 will be the third of the four contracted years for this challenge, and some very interesting matchups are created:

  • Nov. 30 – Creighton at San Diego State–Creighton leads all-time series, 3-1; last meeting 1/3/1974
  • Dec. 3 – Air Force at Drake—Drake leads all-time series, 5-0; last meeting 12/12/1981
  • Dec. 3 – Indiana State at Boise State– First meeting
  • Dec. 3 – Colorado State at Northern Iowa– First meeting
  • Dec. 3 – Missouri State at New Mexico—New Mexico leads all-time series, 1-0; only meeting 12/22, 1962
  • Dec. 3 – TCU at Evansville–First meeting
  • Dec. 3 – Bradley at Wyoming–Bradley leads all-time series, 1-0; only meeting 3/30/1951
  • Dec. 4 – UNLV at Wichita State–Series tied, 1-1; last meeting 1/10/1979

Panthers Still RisingNorthern Iowa is still working its way back to the top of the MVC, where they have been the past two seasons.  A win over Creighton and a thrilling victory against conference leader Missouri State have put them back into the thick of things.  They have won eight of their last nine games and are currently on a seven-game roll.  Don’t be surprised to see Northern Iowa working their way to a third straight NCAA Tournament berth.

Bracketbuster MatchupsThe Missouri Valley Conference schools will find out their opponents for Bracketbusters on Monday.  All ten schools are involved in this event, with Wichita State and Missouri State lined up for likely TV games.  Northern Iowa also remains a possibility for one of the 11 television spots on the ESPN family of networks for this event.  Schools like St. Mary’s, Old Dominion, Utah State and George Mason will likely get matched up with teams in the Valley.

Player of the Week—Kyle Weems, Missouri State—Weems is continuing to make his case for conference Player of the Year honors with solid performances this week, averaging 18 points and six rebounds a game.  After having a somewhat slow start to conference season, Weems has been more consistent.

Newcomer of the Week—Doug McDermott, Creighton—McDermott is continuing his great freshman season, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds in games against Northern Iowa and Indiana State this week.  It is very likely that McDermott is considered for All-Conference first team honors at the end of the season.

Power Rankings (Record) (Conference Record)  (Last week rank)

  1. Wichita State (18-4) (9-2) (2)—The Shockers finally take over the top spot since they are winning right now.  They had a somewhat easy week with Southern Illinois and Bradley, but wins are wins and that is what the goal is at this point in the season.   Wichita State should enjoy back to back 20-win seasons again, but February has always been a tough month for the Shockers.  Things could get interesting when they go to Indiana State this week before hosting a streaking Illinois State.
  2. Northern Iowa (16-6) (8-3) (4)— Right now, the Panthers are playing the best ball, knocking off Creighton and Missouri State this past week.  Their seven-game winning streak is a familiar feat as they reeled off 11 straight in conference play two seasons ago and started off winning 13 of 14 games to start conference play last season.   Ben Jacobson does his best to keep from providing bulletin board material and wants no distractions.  They should continue their streak against Drake and Illinois State this week.
  3. Missouri State (17-5) (9-2) (1)— Missouri State easily had the game of the week in against Northern Iowa on Sunday night, but lost it in the final seconds breaking a 19-game winning streak they had at JQH Arena.  The win against Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls at the beginning of conference season broke a large home winning streak for the Panthers.   They had to hold off Drake earlier in the week and the Bears are pretty vulnerable at this point.  It is possible they may have problems with a hot Evansville team before the rematch with Indiana State who gave them their other loss in conference play. 
  4. Creighton (14-9) (6-5) (5)— Creighton’s up-and-down season continues, but they may be turning a corner.  They came up just short against Northern Iowa despite shooting 70% from the field in the second half, and earned a hard-fought victory against Indiana State where 51 fouls were called between the two teams.  The play of Doug McDermott is easing the stress on his dad, Greg.  A lot of Creighton fans wonder what this team would be like without the young McDermott on the team this season.  The schedule is somewhat favorable for the Bluejays over the next five games as they play teams in the bottom half of the league.  They head to Bradley and then host Evansville this week.
  5. Indiana State (12-10) (7-4) (3)— The Sycamores are coming back to earth after the fast conference start.  They have now lost three in a row and things do not get easier with the return game against Wichita State and Missouri State on the schedule this week.  Against Creighton, turnovers were a problem.   At the same time, it is a great opportunity to turn things around and get back in the conference race if they take things “one game at a time.” 
  6. Evansville (12-9) (6-5) (6)— Don’t look now, but Evansville is on a bit of a roll.  They have won five of their last six and are playing with a lot of confidence.  The Aces are exceeding expectations for the second year in a row. They could really make the Valley standings interesting with games against Missouri State and Creighton this week. 
  7. Southern Illinois (10-12) (4-7) (7)— Southern Illinois is going the opposite way of the Purple Aces.  They have lost five of their last six and time may be running out for Chris Lowery.  However, he may still be back next season because it would cost the school too much to replace him and their financial state to keep the university running could not afford to take that kind of hit. It is getting to a point where their best player, Mamadou Seck is having to bring the ball up the court and he isn’t the point guard.   They could pick up a couple of wins this week against Drake and Bradley. 
  8. Illinois State (11-11) (3-8) (9)—After starting conference season 0-8, the Redbirds have won three in a row and have risen out of the bottom of the rankings. Their confidence is soaring after getting a last second shot reversed in the Drake game to send it to overtime.  Like Evansville, they could play the role of spoilers against Northern Iowa and Wichita State this week.
  9. Drake (8-14) (3-8) (8)—Drake has lost six of seven, and you really don’t know what team will show up from game to game.  They are 0-5 on the road in conference play, so they are definitely not a road team.  At home, they rank last in attendance with less than 4000 attending home games.  They travel to Southern Illinois  before hosting Northern Iowa this week
  10. Bradley (6-16) (0-11) (10)— Losing stinks and I’m sure Bradley fans are tired of it. I fully expect Bradley to get a win before the season is over, but who will it be against?  Taylor Brown is definitely not coming back this season as there was talk he might end up playing during the stretch run after his required three months off.  But there are way too many factors that could make things worse.  Between Evansville, Illinois State and Bradley, they will create some havoc before conference season is over, but it may hurt the MVC more than help it.  The Braves get Creighton and Southern Illinois this week.

A Look Ahead

The top teams will try to avoid upsets this week.

  • 2/1—Wichita State @ Indiana State (Local TV)—The Shockers had to fight in three overtimes for the win in the first meeting.  The second meeting could be another great battle.
  • 2/1—Creighton @ Bradley (ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com)—At some point Bradley will win a Valley game, it is just that the Bluejays don’t want to be that team.
  • 2/2—Missouri State @ Evansville (Local TV)—The Bears could be that much closer to locking up the MVC regular season, but the Purple Aces have been hot as of late.
  • 2/5—Indiana State @ Missouri State (No TV)—The Sycamores were impressive early in the conference season, but if they want to stay in the race, then they need a win here badly.
  • 2/5—Northern Iowa @ Drake (ESPNU)—The Panthers won the game in Cedar Falls.  Will the Bulldogs return the favor in Des Moines?

Other games on National TV this week:

  • 2/2—Drake @ Southern Illinois (Fox Sports Net)
  • 2/5—Evansville @ Creighton  (ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com)
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Checking in on… the Missouri Valley

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 25th, 2011

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

A Look Back

  • Missed OpportunitiesThis week, several teams missed opportunities to really shake things up in the Missouri Valley Conference.  Missouri State had a great opportunity to get a commanding lead in the standings and stay undefeated, but lost to Indiana State on a last-second shot by Jake Kelly to tie the game with a foul.  He calmly sank the free throw and the Sycamores found themselves tied with Missouri State for a short time in the standings.  Creighton had an opportunity to move up a couple of games, but lost to Missouri State on Saturday with Kyle Weems coming through with late-game heroics for the Bears.

  • 3OT Thriller In what could have shaken the standings a little more, Indiana State went into Wichita and gave the Shockers all they could handle taking the game to three overtimes.  Wichita State eventually pulled out the win.

  • Standings Stay PutAs a result of the ups and downs of everyone this week, the standings and power rankings stay the same.  Slowly, as mentioned last week, Northern Iowa has worked its way up back into the mix and scored a key victory over Wichita State.  With Creighton and Missouri State on for this week, it should be another crazy week in the Valley.
  • Player of the Week—Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Northern Iowa—Ahelegbe has been the key cog in bringing Northern Iowa back into the MVC race.  He averaged 18.5 points, 5.0 assists and shot 61.1 percent from the field this week in the two Panther victories.
  • Newcomer of the Week—Jake Odum, Indiana State–The freshman has continued to impress as the leader on the court for the Sycamores.  He had 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the three-overtime game against Wichita State.  His presence on the court will decide whether Indiana State continues to win games or not.

Power Rankings (Record) (Conference Record) (Last week’s rank)

  1. Missouri State (16-4) (8-1) (1)— Missouri State had a wide range of emotions this week.  First was the last second loss in Terre Haute against Indiana State, which carried over into the game with Creighton.  Missouri State was down the whole game by as many as 15 points until the final 11 minutes of the second half, where they fought back to steal the win against the Bluejays.  They get to face the state of Iowa this week by going to Drake and hosting Northern Iowa.
  2. Wichita State (16-4) (7-2) (2)— The Shockers have went through almost the same set of emotions, a bit of an emotional gut check.  The Shockers have had some problems defending home court in conference play after losing two straight against Missouri State and Northern Iowa.  They almost lost their third straight at home before winning in triple overtime against Indiana State.  This week they take a trip to Southern Illinois before hosting Bradley.
  3. Indiana State (12-8) (7-2) (3)— The Sycamores are the surprise team of the season which there always seems to be lately in the MVC.  Their six-day stretch of basketball was one to remember.  Indiana State had their biggest test of the season in games against Missouri State and Wichita State.  While being able to steal one against the Bears, They could not steal another one on the road at Wichita State.  Evansville comes to town this week and has been the only other team in the conference to beat Indiana State.  I’m sure Indiana State will be hungry for that one.   Then, a road trip to Creighton who may be looking for revenge against the Sycamores.
  4. Northern Iowa (14-6) (6-3) (4)— The Panthers have been able to fly under the radar for the most part and have snuck back into the race.  They have won six of their last seven games including wins at Wichita State and Drake last week.  They host Creighton and then go to Missouri State. If the Valley season has been any indication, don’t be surprised to see Northern Iowa sitting at the top of the conference standings by the end of the week.  Some are hoping that their Bracketbusters opponent will put up a better fight. 
  5. Creighton (13-8) (5-4) (5)— The Bluejays have had several opportunities slip through their fingers.  They came out on fire against Bradley but really struggled in the second half.  Creighton has had second half problems all season and that caught up to them again in Springfield when they could not hold a lead against Missouri State in the final minutes.  Creighton has now lost games against Iowa State, Nebraska, Missouri State, and Indiana State on final possessions and  have had second half breakdowns against BYU, Northwestern, Missouri State, and Wichita State.  Creighton needs someone other than Antoine Young to be able to create plays in the backcourt.  The Bluejays is tougher than last year, but not tough enough.   
  6. Evansville (10-9) (4-5) (6)— The Aces have been average this season as their record indicates.  They lost against Southern Illinois but came back to beat Bradley. Pieter van Tongeren has improved for Evansville.  They head to Indiana State, who they have beaten already and have a quick turnaround for the return game against Southern Illinois
  7. Southern Illinois (10-10) (4-5) (7)—The Salukis are sitting in the position that the media picked them in to start the season, but they are getting better, just inconsistent.  They gave Illinois State their first conference win of the season which takes them back a couple of steps. The injury to Gene Teague really hurt them this season, but he has now returned to the lineup. They host the Shockers this week before hitting the road back to Evansville.
  8. Drake (8-12) (3-6) (8)— Drake is trying to see what they can do in preparation for next year since things have not turned out as they had hoped.  They did get a win against Illinois State to give them some confidence, but then laid an egg against Northern Iowa.   They get to play spoiler against Missouri State this week before heading to Illinois State.
  9. Illinois State (9-11) (1-8) (9)— The Redbirds got their first win in the conference against Southern Illinois which gives them a boost before their rival game against Bradley.  They hoped that year four under Tim Jankovich would not have turned out the way it has. 
  10. Bradley (6-14) (0-9) (10)— What else can you say about Bradley?  They played probably one of their best halves of basketball against Creighton in the second half on Wednesday night and tried to come back against Evansville, but were too far down to get a victory.  Andrew Warren continues to be a scoring machine for Bradley and unfortunately isn’t in the same breath of Jimmer Fredette due to the team’s struggles. 

A Look Ahead

The grueling conference season continues with several big games on the schedule this week.

  • 1/26—Creighton @ Northern Iowa (ESPNU)—Creighton has struggled with Northern Iowa in recent years, but a win here is needed by both teams to have a chance for the top of the league.   Greg McDermott returns to where his coaching career took off and brings his son who originally signed with Northern Iowa.  It will definitely be an interesting return.
  • 1/26—Wichita State @ Southern Illinois (Fox Sports Net)—The Shockers are trying to keep par with everyone else and winning on the road is always important, especially at SIU Arena.
  • 1/26—Illinois State @ Bradley (Local TV)—Both teams are the bottom dwellers in the league, but their rivalry is always fierce.  Jim Les’ job may be on the line for Bradley in this one.
  • 1/29—Indiana State @ Creighton (ESPN Full Court/ESPN3)—Indiana State doesn’t want to feel left out in the conference race and getting more wins against the teams like Creighton will help solidify the run they have had during conference season.
  • 1/30—Northern Iowa @ Missouri State (ESPNU)—If the cards fall right earlier in the week and Northern Iowa gets revenge for the conference opener in Cedar Falls that the Bears won, then the Panthers could be sitting at the top of the league after Sunday night.  The always adventurous Missouri Valley Conference.
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 18th, 2011

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

A Look Back

  • Indiana State Is For Real Indiana State came into the week with a 4-1 conference record, but many were not convinced they were a legitimate contender based on the teams they have played so far—mainly teams in the bottom of the league.  However, the Sycamores escaped with a big win against Creighton on the last second lay-in by Carl Richard to take them to 6-1 in league play heading into this week.

  • Bradley and Illinois State Remain Winless Both of these schools have yet to win a game in conference play after sitting last season towards the top of the league.  For the Braves, this is their worst start in MVC  history while the Redbirds have not suffered a start to conference play like this for eight years.
  • Defense Part of the EliteMissouri State, Wichita State, and Indiana State are 1-2-3 in scoring defense which has been the key in those three teams sitting at the top of the conference.   Missouri State is keeping teams at just over 28% shooting from three-point land compared to almost 40% last season.
  • Player of the Week—Aaron Carter, Indiana State—The senior for the Sycamores has taken advantage of his expanded role over the past few weeks being a key component in the wins over Creighton and Bradley this week.  He averaged 17 points including 8-of-13 from three point range and 8-of-9 from the charity stripe.
  • Newcomer of the Week—Mamadou Seck, Southern Illinois—Seck has been a bright spot amongst the struggles Southern Illinois has had averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds per game in their two losses this week.  He had 17 of the team’s 31 rebounds in the loss to Missouri State.

Power Rankings (Record, Conference Record) (Last Week’s Record)

  1. Missouri State (15-3, 7-0) (1)— The Bears are still rolling along with wins over Southern Illinois and Bradley this week.  They have learned from their mistakes from last season which has turned things around for them this season.   This week will be a big test to see whether it can stay undefeated in conference play with a road trip to Indiana State and then the return game against Creighton Saturday afternoon on ESPN2. 
  2. Wichita State (15-3, 6-1) (2)—The Shockers had a successful road trip this week with wins at Creighton and Drake.  Wichita State wore down the Bluejays with their athleticism while they just ran the Bulldogs off the court.  All six of their conference wins have been by 14 points or more, and their 4-0 start on the road is the first since 1964-65.  David Kyles, who was blazing hot at the beginning of the season, cooled off as conference play began, but might have gotten his shot back against Creighton.  However, Garrett Stutz strained knee in the game against Creighton and may be limited for a period of time.   They host two big games against the rejuvenated Northern Iowa Panthers and the surprising Indiana State. 
  3. Indiana State (11-7, 6-1) (4)— The Sycamores have started 6-1 in league play for the first time since the 1999-2000 season and a big part of it is the play of freshman point guard Jake Odum.  The local product has been a solid leader for Indiana State while at the same time the team has overcome player injuries by Jake Kelly and Dwayne Latham allowing others like Aaron Carter step up.  As these players are coming back, Indiana State has built itself some good depth.   By the end of this week, the Sycamores could be sitting at the top of the league if it can get wins against Wichita State and Missouri State.  Their biggest concern is getting more fans at home games
  4. Northern Iowa (12-6, 4-3) (6)— Hello…the Panthers are still around.  While many, like myself, wrote off Northern Iowa a couple of weeks ago, they have rebounded by winning four of their last five games and have entered back into the MVC race, including the ugly 46-44 win last Wednesday night.  Lucas O’Rear was suspended for a game for violating a team rule, but returned to the starting lineup and had a career high 18 points and added 10 rebounds in his second career double-double in the win against Illinois State.  They still need some help, but can make more strides with Wichita State and Drake on the schedule this week.
  5. Creighton (12-7, 4-3) (3)— The Bluejays are not able to win games right now.  Creighton has lost two straight home games for the first time since the Qwest Center opened in 2003 when they lost to Missouri State last week and Wichita state this past week.  A white-out and  $1 sodas and $1 beers were not enough to take down the Shockers ending a 17-game home winning streak against Wichita State.  After the stunning loss against Indiana State, they hope to get back to winning ways at home against Bradley and stealing a game at league leader Missouri State this week. 
  6. Evansville (9-8, 3-4) (8)— The Purple Aces won two games this week against Drake and Illinois State leaving them in the middle tier of the league. The wins are due to balanced scoringColt Ryan may have finally found some other teammates that want to score some points and play ball, including point guard Troy Taylor.   It is very possible they could notch a couple more wins this week as they take on Southern Illinois and winless Bradley.
  7. Southern Illinois (9-9, 3-4) (5)— Just when you thought the Salukis had things turned around and could have a decent conference season, they have now lost three of four, including their eighth straight loss to Northern Iowa on the road, and find themselves sitting with a .500 record for the season.   The limited play of Gene Teague is keeping SIU from controlling the paint.   The bottom of the league battles continue with Evansville and Illinois State on the schedule. 
  8. Drake (7-11, 2-5) (7)— Drake has lost five of their last six and if it wasn’t for Illinois State and Bradley being even worse, the Bulldogs would be sitting at the very bottom of the league.  They might actually get another win this week as they host Illinois State, but that may be the last one they get for the next month.  If their travel problems are any indication, this could be a long rest of the season for the Bulldogs. 
  9. Illinois State (8-10, 0-7) (9)—Illinois State and Bradley are fighting for that bottom spot.  Luckily head coach Tim Jankovich has a pass for this season and they can build some experience for 2011-12. They are definitely tired of losing and they haven’t even played Bradley yet this season.   
  10. Bradley (6-12, 0-7) (10)— Some are talking about Jim Les losing his job at the end of the season despite the injuries they have suffered.  If Indiana State’s reaction to injuries is any indication, then it could be very well be Les’ last season in Peoria.  They still haven’t said “quit,” but how long until they do?   

A Look Ahead

As Missouri Valley Conference play hits mid-season, there are a lot of key games going this week.

  • 1/18—Illinois State @ Drake (Local TV)—Illinois State is looking for their first conference win and this might be their chance to get one.
  • 1/19—Northern Iowa @ Wichita State (Fox Sports Net)—The Panthers are trying to stay in the race while the Shockers are looking to stay at the top to fight Missouri State and Indiana State down the stretch.
  • 1/19—Missouri State @ Indiana State (Local TV, both markets)—The Bears are trying to stay undefeated in conference play.  A win here could almost seal things up for Missouri State with all the road wins they have gotten and have a favorable schedule the second half of the season.
  • 1/22—Creighton @ Missouri State (ESPN2)— Creighton was dismantled in Omaha in the second half against Missouri State.  The Bluejays will need to get a big road win here to stay on the outside, looking in.  Creighton is basically fighting for seeding in the MVC tournament from here on out.
  • 1/22—Indiana State @ Wichita State (Local TV)—The Sycamores finish their week against the top of the league and could be sitting at the top of it with a win in Wichita.
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 11th, 2011

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

RTC is interested in learning how to improve our Checking In On… series in each conference.  Let us know in the below poll where we can improve this weekly piece (feel free to add specific comments).  Thanks.

A Look Back

  • Indiana State On The RiseAfter a rough start in non-conference play, the Sycamores have been improving, jumping out to an early 4-1 record in conference play.  A lot of it has been without Jake Kelly and Dwayne Latham.  First year head coach Greg Lansing is seizing the opportunity to move Indiana State up in the pecking order in the league.
  • Early Season Wins On The RoadMissouri State is building up big road wins early this conference season against the top teams in the league.  The Bears already has wins in their back pocket at Northern Iowa, at Creighton, and at Wichita State.  It may be the way Cuonzo Martin handles his bench.  With the way thing are going with Missouri State winning on the road, they are setting themselves up for having the biggest advantage once February comes around.
  • Not A Guard League This SeasonThe Missouri Valley Conference has been known historically as a guard-oriented league, but several teams are relying on their frontcourt players to lead them along:   Missouri State’s front line of Kyle Weems and Will Creekmore, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Kenny Lawson, and Gregory Echenique, and Southern Illinois’ Gene Teague, Mamadou Seck and Carlton Fay are examples of players that are carrying their teams that are not necessarily guards.
  • Player of the Week—Carlton Fay, Southern Illinois—This week, Fay was instrumental in the wins against Bradley and Illinois State in averaging almost 20 points a game for the Salukis.  He had 33 points against Illinois State, including two free throws at the end to seal the win.  They will need him to perform big to keep
  • Newcomer of the Week—Doug McDermott, Creighton—It may seem like this is a little biased, but facts are facts—McDermott has been consistent week to week.  This week he averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds a game in the three games played this week.  A close second is Mamadou Seck from Southern Illinois, but he only had two good game performances this week.  McDermotts three solid games put him over the top.

Power Rankings (Record) (Conference Record)  (Last week’s rank)

  1. Missouri State (13-3) (5-0) (2)— It is looking more and more like the team to beat this season is Missouri State.  The Bears have gone out on the road and improved from their 1-17 record over the past two seasons to 3-0 so far this season.  Against Creighton this week, it was about making adjustments at halftime, which resulted in easy layups.  Against Wichita State, it was getting out to an early lead and just taking it to the Shockers before holding on to the victory.   They now host Southern Illinois and put their 17-game home winning streak on the line.  They are in this for the long haul.
  2. Wichita State (13-3) (4-1) (1)— The Shockers in some respects has sort of flown under the radar  as they probably haven’t been talked about as much as other teams, especially with the success of Missouri State.   They had an easy start with games against Drake, Bradley, Evansville and Illinois State, which are a combined 3-17 in conference play.  The loss against Missouri State on Sunday may be a wake-up call to them.  Their next big test will be at Creighton on Wednesday night.  They may have found the point guard they have been looking for in Demetric Williams.
  3. Creighton (12-5) (4-1) (3) — The Bluejays suffered from inconsistent play at the beginning of the week.  They played a solid first half against Missouri State, but blew an 11-point lead in the second half at home and were outscored 47-26, and did not defend their home court.  The first half against Southern Illinois wasn’t much better, but Creighton rebounded with a come-from-behind overtime victory at Southern Illinois and held on for a win at Evansville.  Kaleb Korver has finally come around in his scoring with career highs at Southern Illinois and Evansville.   Wichita State comes to town and a road trip to surprising Indiana State will be important to them to try and stay in the top half of the league.
  4. Indiana State (9-7) (4 -1) (8)— Right now, the Sycamores are the surprise of the league.  Although the wins have come against the bottom of the league and mostly at home, they are still sitting in a good situation.  They destroyed defending champion Northern Iowa 70-45.  Indiana hopes their defense will be the thing that helps them win on the road.  They will already have the return game with Bradley on Wednesday, but then will host Creighton on Sunday.  They could be in the top three next week.
  5. Southern Illinois (9-7) (3-2) (4)— The Salukis’ up-and-down season continues.  They did get wins against Bradley and Illinois State, but couldn’t put rival Creighton away down the stretch with Carlton Fay missing key free throws toward the end of regulation.  Fay rebounded with 33 points including a three pointer with 12 seconds remaining to help secure the win against Illinois State.  Right now they are just a middle of the pack team and road trips to Missouri State and Northern Iowa will not be easy.
  6. Northern Iowa (10-6) (2-3) (5)— The Panthers got their first conference win against Evansville, but were destroyed by Indiana State on Friday night.  Lucas O’Rear then broke team rules and was suspended for the Bradley game on Sunday.  Northern Iowa has some problems to solve if it wants to be in any type of contention down the stretch.   The biggest problem is three-point shooting.  They are shooting the same number of shots, but fewer of them are going in.  If the Panthers hit better than 34% from three, then they are 6-1.
  7. Drake (7-9) (2-3) (9)—Drake has lost three of their last four games and are having problems hanging on to the ball and rebounding—many fundamental things that are needed to win games.  One positive is the performance of Aaron Hawley and Ben Simon off the bench. They will head to Evansville before battling Wichita State at the Knapp Center.
  8. Evansville (7-8) (1-4) (6)— The Purple Aces are reeling, losing all three of their games this week.  It probably has not helped that three of the first five conference games have been on the road.  Colt Ryan and Denver Holmes were quite the duo last season, but Holmes has been pretty quiet this season and hopes he is turning things around.   Drake and Illinois State are on the slate this week.  It is very possible the bottom four teams in the league right now will battle it out for those positions.
  9. Illinois State (8-8) (0-5) (7)— Tim Jankovich knew that he had some rebuilding to do, but probably didn’t expect to start 0-5 in conference play.  They went 0-3 this week and just missed defeating Southern Illinois on Sunday.   The Redbirds have now lost against all of the top teams in the league.  They get Northern Iowa and Evansville this week at home—they are hoping the schedule can help them get some wins.
  10. Bradley (6-10) (0-5) (10)— You wonder if Jim Les would like to start the season over, as nothing seems to be going right for them.  The Braves are still looking for their first conference win, and at this point, it isn’t looking good.  Fans and beat writers are trying to stay positive about the Braves.  I guess one other positive thing to look at is at least Carver Arena got a good review.  They host Indiana State and Missouri State this week.

A Look Ahead

Some great games at the right time this week, as conference play enters the second week.  It will be more intense with three games for each school between Tuesday and Sunday.   

  • 1/12—Wichita State @ Creighton (Local TV—KMTV and Cox-Kansas)— This is actually a pretty good non-rivalry where both schools really do not like each other.  These two teams always play their best against each other.
  • 1/12—Southern Illinois @ Missouri State (No TV)—Both programs are on opposite sides of where they used to be a decade ago, but Southern Illinois wants to stay in contention.  They have to beat Missouri State to stay in the race.
  • 1/16—Creighton @ Indiana State (Fox Sports Net)—The Sycamores have been the surprise in the league so far. They would like to continue that run against the Bluejays.
  • 1/16—Missouri State @ Bradley (ESPNU)—At the beginning of the season, this looked like a key matchup, but now Bradley is just trying to not finish last in the MVC.  At the same time, this would be a loss that the Bears do not need for their conference run.
  • 1/16—Southern Illinois @ Northern Iowa (Local TV—WSIU and PSN)—The Panthers and Salukis are trying to claw their way back in and both teams are searching for answers to get some wins.
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