Set Your Tivo: 03.06.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on March 6th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

What a Saturday it was. The final day of the regular season for BCS teams is today while another ticket will be punched, this time out of the Missouri Valley. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

#22 Kentucky @ Tennessee — 12 pm on CBS (****)

Knight Could ruin UT's Senior Day If He Gets Hot

Tennessee likely locked up a bid Thursday night at South Carolina but a loss today would drop them to 8-8 in the SEC. A win in the conference tournament would be advisable but their solid non-conference resume and strong schedule should probably be enough to push the Volunteers over the top.

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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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Set Your Tivo: 01.07-01.09

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 7th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

The first big hoops weekend of 2011 features many important games across the land. Here are five key games followed by a host of others. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

Cleveland State @ Butler – 7 pm Friday on ESPNU (****)

With Butler’s loss at Milwaukee on Monday, folks in the Horizon League used to the Bulldogs’ dominance are excited that this may be the year someone else takes the title. Cleveland State leads the league by a game over Detroit and Wright State while holding a one and a half game lead over Butler heading into tonight’s game. Should the Vikings win on the road tonight and plow through the rest of their Horizon schedule, expect to see Cleveland State win the league. Obviously we’re a long way off from that but CSU is currently in a nice position. Butler’s problems have been on the defensive end. The Bulldogs have given up an average of 73.6 PPG in their losses while their defensive efficiency has dropped significantly from their top five ranking of a year ago.

The Bulldogs Need Mack Back On Track Tonight, And From Now On

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Checking in on… the Missouri Valley

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 12th, 2010

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

A Look Back

  • ACC Beatings: The Missouri Valley Conference was featured this week in a pair of games on Wednesday night—a sort of ACC/MVC challenge.  It wasn’t much of a challenge for Duke and North Carolina to dispose of Bradley and Evansville both by over 25 points.  Fans love the idea of the matchups, but the end result on national TV may not be the best for the league.
  • Missouri State Quietly Consistent: Everyone anointed Wichita State the preseason favorites.  Some thought Creighton was ready to break out even with a new coach.  There were others that said Northern Iowa would just reload.  But very quietly, Missouri State has strung together the most consistency so far.  They put up over 100 points last weekend against Central Arkansas and rode a four-game winning into Saturday’s game with Oklahoma State.  Granted, they haven’t won against the best teams they have played (Tennessee, Oklahoma State and Tulsa), but are at least not losing to teams they shouldn’t.
  • Scoring Drought: The Missouri Valley Conference against Iowa, Duke and North Carolina this week were only able to score as many as 49 points.  Against Iowa, Northern Iowa’s cold shooting woes only garnered them 39 points.   Evansville hosted North Carolina but could muster only 49 points while Bradley went to Duke and only put up 48.  The conference was 4-6 this last week because they could not score any points – aside from a few “Power Six” foes, the MWC played good defense, as reflected by the opponent scoring totals.
  • MVC As A One-Bid League: It is becoming clearer that the MVC is going to be a one-bid league this season.  Through Saturday’s games, the league is an unimpressive 49-38.  A lot of losses have come against teams the league has no business playing at this point.  As Kyle Whelliston wrote this week, the Valley needs to start playing regularly against teams in leagues currently around them to bring the league back up.
  • Player of the Week: — Dwayne Lathan, Indiana State: Lathan is starting to come on for the Sycamores.  Against DePaul last week, Lathan had 24 points, five rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.  If Indiana State is going to surprise people this season come conference play, Lathan will have to carry the team on his shoulders.
  • Newcomer of The Week — Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott is the only consistent newcomer right now.  He continues the start of his career of scoring in double figures in every game he has played and is currently ahead of pace on Creighton’s all-time leading scorer, Rodney Buford.

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

  1. Missouri State (6-3) (1)—Missouri State is on a roll right now (outside of Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State) and seem to be the most consistent in the league routing Central Arkansas 101-61 with six players in double figures.  Will Creekmore, who is one of only two players in the league to score in double figures every game this season is dealing with a dislocated finger on his non-shooting hand.  With Adam Leonard struggling and having health issues, Creekmore will be needed to team with Kyle Weems to keep their pace going.
  2. Wichita State (6-2) (2)—The Shockers have been flying off of everyone’s radar after their failure at San Diego State.  Their problem right now is that they play in spurts but cannot put together a long stretch of consistent play.   They have a game against Alabama A&M on Monday to try and get more consistency before taking on LSU after finals.
  3. Illinois State (7-3) (3)—Illinois State still has a ways to go, but they are still sitting towards the top this week because the rest of the league does not want to play any better.   Against Ohio, D.J. Cooper, a player who ISU head coach Tim Jankovich tried heavily to recruit, torched the Redbirds for 29 points including the game-winner.  Justin Clark is hoping to get on track.  He was 0-for-17 from three point range before hitting one against Ohio this week.
  4. Northern Iowa (4-3) (5)— Speaking of the three pointer, the Panthers were 6-30 from the arc against Iowa in their 51-39 loss on Tuesday.  Northern Iowa is 1-22 all time in Iowa City and are probably glad they don’t come back for another couple of years.  With a rebuilding team like Northern Iowa, they take one step forward and then two steps back.  The Panthers made it 19 wins in a row at home by beating Morehead State Saturday night.
  5. Creighton (4-4) (7)—The Bluejays have lost to a top 25 team, a potential top 25 team, the coach’s former team and their in-state rival in a span of two weeks.  After the loss to Nebraska on Sunday, the new coaching staff probably suffered their first negative reaction from fans during the transition to Greg McDermott.  Kenny Lawson will get some help down in the post with Gregory Echenique becoming eligible at the end of the first semester this week.  Echenique wants to live up to the expectations many have already put upon him.
  6. Southern Illinois (5-4) (8)— Southern Illinois won two straight this week before heading to Western Kentucky.    The Salukis will not play another game for 11 days.  It will be interesting to see whether the time off will help them regroup before conference season.   What has emerged for Southern Illinois is their frontline of Carlton Fay, Gene Teague and Mamadou Seck.  Lowery made the tweek to the lineup by starting Seck and it appears to be paying off.
  7. Evansville (4-4) (4)—Evansville started their week off with a one-point loss to Air Force in the MVC/MWC challenge, but then had the opportunity to take on North Carolina.  The Tar Heels ran out early against the Purple Aces and didn’t look back.  Clint Hopf and Tyler Zeller are both local products, but never faced each other until this game.   Evansville hopes to rebound against Middle Tennessee this week as they finish up a same season home and home with them.  The Aces lost to Middle Tennessee in their first meeting this season.
  8. Indiana State (4-5) (9)— After being called out for lack of toughness in the loss against Wyoming last week,  they bounced back to beat DePaul for the first time since 1979—In the Final Four with Larry Bird with the Sycamores.  Indiana State is slowly climbing the ladder as they appear to be coming together as a team.
  9. Bradley (4-5) (6)—Bradley is in shambles right now.  The Braves have lost five in a row after starting out 4-0 and the blasting at Duke this week has not helped things.   They have to put the pieces back together and Jim Les thinks that, “They are close to turning this thing around.”  One bright spot was the emergence of freshman Walt Lemon, Jr.  leading Bradley in scoring against Duke.  Their next game is not until December 20.
  10. Drake (3-4) (10)— Drake broke a three-game losing streak with a gutsy win at Eastern Michigan last week.   Drake returned to the Knapp Center for the first time in a month with their game on Sunday against Boise State.  Frank Wiseler is gradually coming back from his Achilles injury that he suffered over the summer.  With the Valley suffering like they are, don’t be surprised if the Bulldogs are able to take advantage of things once conference season rolls around.

A Look Ahead

With finals week this week, there are limited choices, but some games worth paying attention to once the weekend arrives.

  • 12/18—Idaho State @ Creighton (ESPN Full Court)—Many Creighton fans had this date circled on their camera for the debut of Rutgers transfer Gregory Echenique.  The Bluejays specifically tried to schedule three games between now and the conference opener on December 29 to get Echenique some playing time.
  • 12/18—Iowa @ Drake (Local TV)—The battle for Iowa supremacy concludes as the Hawkeyes visit the Knapp Center.  The Bulldogs need this win not only for them, but to help the conference profile.
  • 12/18—Indiana State vs. Purdue at Conseco Fieldhouse (Big Ten Network)—The Sycamores and Boilermakers get together for the Boilermaker Blockbuster which was revived for the first time since 2003.
  • 12/18—Wichita State vs. LSU in Bossier City, LA (Local TV)—This closes out a three-game series between these two teams where each team played on their home court and the final game of the series was at a neutral site.  But in reality it is basically a home game for the Tigers in this one.  Wichita State needs this one to get a key win on their resume.  LSU is not the answer, but they are still a Power Six conference team.
  • 12/18—St. Louis @ Missouri State (No TV)—This is a rare A-10 vs. MVC matchup in this one.  Both teams want to make noise in their respective conferences, so this should be a good game, but too bad it is not on TV.
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RTC Conference Primers: #10 – Missouri Valley

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 27th, 2010

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

You only need one video clip to sum up the Missouri Valley Conference last season: Ali Farokhmanesh hitting the dagger three-pointer against #1 Kansas in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Missouri State (24-6, 14-4)
  2. Wichita State (23-7, 13-5)
  3. Creighton (23-8, 13-5)
  4. Southern Illinois (21-9, 11-7)
  5. Northern Iowa (20-11, 10-8)
  6. Bradley (19-11, 10-8)
  7. Illinois State (16-16, 7-11)
  8. Drake (12-18, 4-14)
  9. Evansville (11-16, 4-14)
  10. Indiana State (9-21, 4-14)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • G: Toure’ Murry, Wichita State (11.9 PPG, 5 RPG, 109 AST)
  • G:  Sam Maniscalco, Bradley (13.1 PPG, 107 AST)
  • G:  Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Northern Iowa (10.6 PPG, 97 AST)
  • F:  Kyle Weems, Missouri State (13.6 PPG 6.2, RPG 40.7% 3PT)
  • C:  Kenny Lawson Jr., Creighton (13.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 82% FT)

6th Man

Adam Leonard, Missouri State  (13 PPG,  39% 3PT)

Impact Newcomer

Greg Echenique, Creighton (Rutgers transfer)

Kyle Weems was nine years old when Missouri State last made the NCAA Tournament in 1999.

What You Need to Know

  • Multiple Bids: Last season, people will easily remember the Missouri Valley Conference with Ali Farokhmanesh hitting the gutsy three-pointer late in the game to lead Northern Iowa’s upset against #1 Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.  What you may not know is that for the third straight season, the MVC has only sent one representative to the Big Dance.  After several years of sending multiple teams in and hitting a peak of four teams in 2006, the past three seasons have seen the team that won both the conference regular season and conference tournament (Drake and UNI twice) as single-bid teams that went to the NCAA Tournament.  This season the schools in the conference have beefed up their schedules the best they can to hopefully return to a multiple bid league.
  • Coaching Changes: A number of linked events took place this summer regarding the coaches in the MVC. The Dean of the Valley Dana Altman left Creighton after 16 years to take the head coaching job at OregonIowa State head coach Greg McDermott was hired less than 48 hours later.  He had one stint in the MVC already as the head coach of Northern Iowa before Ben Jacobson.  Jacobson released McDermott’s son Doug from his letter of intent so that he could join his dad and play with the Bluejays.   About a month later, Indiana State head coach Kevin McKenna left to become an assistant once again under Altman.   Chris Lowery (Southern Illinois) and Jim Les (Bradley) are now the elder statesmen of the conference, but both of their seats are pretty warm right now as they try to take their teams back to the NCAA Tournament after each of their Sweet 16 runs seem like ages ago for those two schools.
  • Veteran Teams: Many of the MVC teams bring back a lot of veterans to lead their respective teams.  Creighton returns all-conference center Kenny Lawson and point guard Antoine Young.   Missouri State brings back a solid combination of Adam Leonard and Kyle Weems.   Wichita State has the talented JT Durley, Graham Hatch and Toure’ Murry while Bradley has Andrew Warren, Sam Maniscalco and Taylor Brown returning.   But you can’t leave out Northern Iowa with Kwadzo Ahelegbe and MVC sixth man of the year Lucas O’Rear. With such a large percentage of players retuning this season, a battle for The Valley title could be messy and any of these teams could emerge as the dust clears in March.

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RTC Live: MVC Tournament Qtrs – Missouri State vs. Wichita State

Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2010

RTC Live comes to you from the Gateway City on Friday night, as Day Two of Arch Madness continues with the second seeded Wichita State Shockers taking on the Missouri State Bears. Wichita State wrapped up the regular season 23-8, 12-6 in the Valley, and was in the discussion for an NCAA at-large bid until they lost to previously winless Evansville in early February. Since then, they’ve lost twice more, both on the road (Utah State and Bradley, the former in the BracketBusters event). The Shockers are perhaps the most physical team in the MVC, as their +5 rebound margin (best in the league) and their defense allows just 61 points a game can attest.  Meanwhile, Missouri State is in year two under former Purdue star Cuonzo Martin, and got off to a hot start before fading during the second half of conference play, going 20-11 and 8-10 in the MVC. The Bears are led by MVC Newcomer of the Year Adam Leonard, who averages 12 points and 3 assists a game, and they won the second play-in game last night to earn to right to play the Shockers.  Stop by at 6 PM for RTC Live from courtside at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis!
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Missouri Valley Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2010

 

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

PRESEASON vs. ACTUAL RESULTS

As you can see from the preseason predictions I made on the Missouri Valley conference back in October versus how things ended up, the MVC turned out to be difficult to predict this year as none of the teams performed as expected other than Northern Iowa and Wichita State.

I originally was not sold on the Panthers, but as the season wore on, I could see the cohesiveness and all the little things this group of players do to win games.  Even with the suspension of Jordan Eglseder in three of the final four games, they were able to rally for the most part and continue their dominance in the Valley.  Wichita State may have surprised some, but the Shockers appear to be back in the Valley picture after a few year absence from relevance.  The work Gregg Marshall has done to build this team back up from scratch has paid off.  The question now is whether it is enough to get to an NCAA Tournament postseason.

HELLO SAINT LOUIS

The Missouri Valley Conference tournament will take place this coming week at the Scottrade Center in downtown Saint Louis.  Rush the Court will be live in St. Louis this week to keep you updated on the things going on at Arch Madness.  Here is how the bracket shapes up:

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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by rtmsf on January 25th, 2010

Standings & Records (Conference Standings) (Last Week)

  1. Northern Iowa  17-2  (8-1) (1)
  2. Wichita State 15-4 (6-3) (2)
  3. Illinois State  14-6 (5-4) (3)
  4. Drake  10-11 (5-4)  (8)
  5. Bradley  10-9 (5-4) (6)
  6. Creighton  10-10 (5-4)  (4)
  7. Missouri State  14-6 (4-5) (5)
  8. Southern Illinois   11-7 (4-5) (9)
  9. Indiana State  11-9 (3-6) (7)
  10. Evansville 6-12 (0-9) (10)

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Wichita State/Northern Iowa game was as expected—The matchup of the top two teams in the conference was quite the game this week.  Getting the TV exposure is needed for the MVC.  Wichita State came out fast against the Panthers to take a dominant lead in front of a raucous home crowd to halftime.  Maybe it was the extra attention that Northern Iowa was getting by being ranked the day before or the fact that the Shockers hosted another ranked team at home in the same season for the first time in almost 15-20 years.  But the Panthers erased the deficit early in the second half and seemed as though they were going to pull out the victory the same way they have all season, but did not have enough as the Shockers upset the Panthers and once again put the Valley race back in play for several other teams.

Opportunities lost, others gained—With Northern Iowa losing this week, Wichita State, Creighton and Illinois State could have taken advantage of the situation in the MVC standings.  However, Creighton lost to Illinois State, Illinois State lost to Southern Illinois and Wichita State turned around and lost to Drake.  Bradley and Drake, who have been struggling this season, have taken advantage of those losses to move up the Valley standings.   It is now anyone’s game, but it is extremely important that either Wichita State or Northern Iowa decide to take over the league and somebody else win the Valley tournament if they expect to get more than one team into the NCAA Tournament this season.

Saint Louis wants to be part of the Valley?—Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus made it quite clear that they would rather be a part of the Missouri Valley Conference instead of the A10.  The question is, could that really happen?  And if so, would they drop a team or add another to make the conference twelve?  Butler? Western Kentucky?  Apparently there are no plans for any MVC expansion, but does make an interesting discussion.

POSITIVE WEEK

Drake (2-0 this week, 5 game winning streak) — Drake has been on fire, now on a five-game winning streak including a dominating win against Wichita State on Saturday.   Players are stepping up while Craig Stanley is out with an injury.   The Bulldogs will be squarely in the conference race with wins against Northern Iowa and Creighton this week. What a turnaround this might be after having a horrible non-conference season and losing to teams like SIU-Edwardsville at home.

Bradley (2-0 this week, 3 game winning streak) – Bradley all of a sudden is making a turnaround with a three-game winning streak with wins this past week against Southern Illinois and Evansville.  Defense has been the key to their resurgence.   Bradley could move up into the top three of the conference with wins over Creighton and Illinois State this week.

CAN’T DECIDE

Northern Iowa (1-1 this week) — The Panthers ranking and Sports Illustrated article were probably a little too much to handle this week heading into their game against Wichita State while opening the door to the rest of the conference to say they are beatable.  Northern Iowa is in no way guaranteed the NCAA tournament as their Athletic Director can attest after his participation in a mock NCAA selection committee exercise.   Jordan Eglseder looks like a different player this season and appears to be a dominant inside threat in the Valley.  The hottest team in the conference, Drake, is coming to town before a trip to Missouri State is on the schedule this week.

Wichita State (1-1 this week) — Wichita gave Northern Iowa their best shot and sent a message to the Panthers that they are contenders for the league, but then must have had a hangover in getting drilled by Drake.    You would have thought Wichita was completely out of the race after this loss.    They hope to get back on track against Illinois State and Southern Illinois

Illinois State  (1-1 this week) — The Redbirds came from behind Wednesday night against Creighton by dominating the inside with Dinma Okiakosa setting the standard, but then suffered an overtime defeat to Southern Illinois.   This will be a key week for them with games against Wichita State and Bradley.

Missouri State (1-1 this week) — Missouri State blew a 24-point second half lead against Indiana State before surviving in overtime.  They then lost a see-saw battle against Creighton.  A key to the Bears’ continued success is the health of Adam Leonard. He has been experiencing back spasms that may keep him out of games down the line.  They will need him for the games against Evansville and Northern Iowa this week.

Creighton  (1-1 this week) — Creighton let another halftime lead slip away, this time at Illinois State.  They were on the verge of collapsing but hit an amazing 15-15 from the free throw line in the second half to get a win against Missouri State.  Are the Bluejays playing scared?  Some are starting to think that including the players.  Road trips to Bradley and Drake won’t make things any easier this week.

Southern Illinois (1-1 this week)—Just when you thought the Salukis were about to pack it in for the second consecutive season (with a loss to Bradley at home), screams for Chris Lowery’s exit out of town grows louder and louder, and academic problems with Gene Teague,  they survived against Illinois State in overtime.   A road trip to Indiana State before hosting Wichita State are on the slate this week.

PACKING IT IN

Indiana State (0-2 this week) — Indiana State took 30 minutes to wake up against Missouri State and almost came back to defeat them, but came up short.   Although they were in range of Northern Iowa, they could not steal a win from there.  The loss of Dwayne Lathan has really hurt this team.   They have few opportunities left to make a conference run, but could have some success hosting Southern Illinois before heading to Evansville this week.

Evansville (0-2 this week, 10 game losing streak) — It doesn’t really matter who Evansville is playing anymore, they just don’t have enough to win games.  Rebuilding is hard, especially at Evansville.   Missouri State and Indiana State are on the slate this week and could be a spoiler for those teams.

WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH

The Wild and Wacky Valley.  You have to see it:

  • 1/25, Western Kentucky @ Southern Illinois (Fox College Sports)—A very odd out of conference matchup for the Salukis and Hilltoppers during conference season that looked more attractive at the beginning of the season.  Not so much now, but still likely a good game.
  • 1/27, Creighton @ Bradley (Local TV)—Great matchup for both teams that are looking to position themselves for St. Louis.
  • 1/27, Drake @ Northern Iowa (Local TV)—Drake wants respect.  Best way to get it is against conference leader UNI.
  • 1/27, Illinois State @ Wichita State (Fox Sports Net)—Koch Arena is a great college basketball environment.  See it in action on TV.
  • 1/30, Bradley @ Illinois State (Fox Sports Net)—I think the loser of this game will end up playing on Thursday in the play-in games in the MVC tournament.
  • 1/30, Creighton @ Drake (Local TV)—Even though Drake didn’t get the win in Omaha a couple weeks ago, the effort jumpstarted them into their current streak.  A great I-80 matchup.
  • 1/30, Northern Iowa @ Missouri State—This game isn’t going to be on TV, but it will be a battle in Springfield by these two teams.
  • 1/31, Wichita State @ Southern Illinois (ESPNU)—The Shockers want to separate themselves from the rest of the Valley contenders, but the Saluki’s may not let them at home.

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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 5th, 2010

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

Current records and my standings (Conference Standings) (Last Week):

  1. Northern Iowa 12-1 (3-0) (3)
  2. Wichita State 13-2 (2-1) (1)
  3. Missouri State 12-2 (2-1) (2)
  4. Illinois State 11-3 (2-1) (5)
  5. Southern Illinois 9-3 (2-1) (4)
  6. Indiana State 10-4 (2-1) (6)
  7. Bradley 6-7 (1-2) (8)
  8. Creighton 6-8 (1-2) (9)
  9. Evansville 6-7 (0-3) (7)
  10. Drake 5-10 (0-3) (10)

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Northern Iowa mowing down the Valley — Those that don’t consider Northern Iowa the class of the Valley need to have their head examined (including myself, before now).  The Panthers are on an 11-game winning streak after following a tough road win against Creighton in Omaha with victories against Evansville and Missouri State to race out to a 3-0 conference record in the first week.

Should be an interesting Conference Season — After the first week, six teams have gotten out to 3-0 or 2-1 records.  The games have all been mostly competitive so far and it will be interesting to see if a few teams will break out of the pack or if they will be spending the season beating up on each other, which may hurt their postseason plans.  If this conference is going to have multiple bids this season, there will need to be a few teams that need to separate themselves, or it could end up being a one-bid league again.  I am sure Bradley and Creighton still think they have something to say about things as well.

TEAMS TO BEAT

Northern Iowa (3-0 this week) — As mentioned above, the Panthers have won three games to start the conference season.  Their shooting percentage against Creighton was not that great, but they left Omaha with a win.  It took a second half rally to get past Missouri State.  The next big test for them will come this week with a road trip to Southern Illinois and Illinois State.

SOLID WEEK

Southern Illinois (2-1 this week) — The Salukis are trying to re-establish themselves as the cream of the Valley once again.  They are definitely starting off better than they did last season.  Things looked pretty good when they took out Indiana State and Bradley earlier this week, but then they played mediocre basketball against the Illinois State Redbirds and couldn’t get over the hump to steal a victory there.  Luckily for the Salukis they get some home cooking this week as they host conference leader Northern Iowa and Drake.

Missouri State (2-1 this week) — Missouri State will be interesting to watch during conference season.  They have been a surprise so far with their non-conference record as well as two victories over Evansville and Illinois State to start conference season.  A loss against Northern Iowa was a bit expected.  The jury is still out on this team and it will be interesting to see how they react by hosting Wichita State and Bradley this week.  Adam Leonard has the nickname “Iceman” now with his cool demeanor and free throw shooting ability with the game on the line.

Wichita State (2-1 this week) — Wichita had been riding high after getting some votes for the Top 25 and several feature articles on them.   They started off the conference season, however, at Illinois State, and had their nine-game winning streak snapped.  They then summoned the moxie to turn around and get wins at home against Bradley and Drake.  This week will be an important week for them as they go to conference surprise Missouri State and host Creighton.   If Wichita is going to continue to be successful, it falls on the shoulders of David Kyles and Garrett Stutz.   In other news, the city of Wichita is excited to open a brand new arena in town, but the Shockers are probably only going to play once or twice a year there.

Indiana State (2-1 this week) — Kevin McKenna is really starting to show why he was hired to take over the reins of the Indiana State team a couple seasons ago.  This team is really playing at a high level right now.  After starting off on the wrong foot against Southern Illinois and losing Iowa transfer Jake Kelly for the season with a torn ACL, they were been able to turn things around and knock off Creighton (where McKenna used to be an assistant for Dana Altman) and then Drake on the road.  If the Sycamores get wins against Evansville and Bradley this week, look out MVC.  Another family tie for McKenna and Altman is that Altman’s son, Jordan, is the Graduate Assistant at Indiana State this season.

Illinois State (2-1 this week) — The Redbirds were another team flying high after knocking off Wichita State to open conference play with their defense, but then stumbled at Missouri State.  They were able to respond with a nice home victory against Southern Illinois.  A trip to Evansville and then hosting conference leader Northern Iowa is on the slate this week.

ROCKY START

Bradley (1-2 this week) — Bradley broke a three-game losing streak by defeating Drake on the road with Andrew Warren giving the Bulldogs nightmares to start off the conference season, but then suffered two losses against Southern Illinois and Wichita State.  Bradley was also without one of their better players in Taylor Brown against Wichita State on Sunday due to a decision by coach Jim Les.   It doesn’t get any easier for Bradley this week as they have Indiana State and Missouri State waiting in the wings for them.

Creighton (1-2 this week) — Creighton was hoping to start the slate clean after a disappointing non-conference season by getting the first crack at the Northern Iowa Panthers.  But the problems that were plaguing Creighton throughout the season against quality competition hit them again.   Bad free throw shooting and not being able to hold on to leads led to their downfall.  A road trip to Indiana State did not bring any relief either as they lost that one, as well.  This led to a two-hour players-only team meeting.  A salvaged win against Evansville on Sunday might be a start of something.  Some people are a bit too concerned about P’Allen Stinnett’s Facebook status, rather than basketball.  Drake and Wichita State are on the slate this week for the Bluejays.

ALREADY IN TROUBLE

Evansville (0-3 this week) — Evansville has started 0-3, but have been right there the whole way in each of their games, losing by small margins.   One big bright spot for the Purple Aces has been the play of freshman Colt Ryan.  In the game against Creighton on Sunday, he single-handedly kept Evansville in the game with his 26 points on 8-16 from the field and 6-11 from three-point range to go along with five assists.   They could be the spoiler in the conference this season, especially if they get their low post problems solved.  Indiana State and Illinois State probably aren’t looking forward to seeing the Aces this week.

Drake (0-3 this week) — Drake is destined to be the doormat of the league this season, evidenced by losing to Bradley, a second half breakdown against Indiana State at home and then just getting completely dismantled at Wichita State.  They now hit the road to visit Creighton and Southern Illinois, two venues that don’t like to let road teams walk away with victories.

WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH

Conference season is well underway and there are a few great matchups this week.

  • 1/6, Wichita St. @ Missouri State (Local TV)—Missouri State is undefeated at home this season. Can Wichita go in to Springfield to get what would look to be a solid win at this point?
  • 1/6, Northern Iowa @ Southern Illinois (ESPNU)—Both teams are at the top of the Valley right now and this winner gets a leg up in the early MVC race.
  • 1/9, Northern Iowa @ Illinois State (ESPN2) —If Northern Iowa gets past SIU earlier in the week, it will be interesting if they can continue the road run. The Panthers already have three big road wins already against the historically tough Valley home venues.
  • 1/9, Bradley @ Missouri State (Local TV)—Bradley had high expectations heading into the season, but have some very disappointing performances. The winner here will have a turnaround of sorts, whereas the loser could spiral down quickly.
  • 1/9, Creighton @ Wichita State (ESPNU)—Many say that Creighton vs. SIU is the rivalry of the Valley, but I really think that Creighton vs. Wichita State is a bigger rivalry between the fan bases and it has spilled over to the court as well. The first meeting of two within a week of each other.
  • 1/10, Evansville @ Indiana State (Fox Sports Net)—If Indiana State wants to consider themselves a contender, they should win this nationally televised game. For Evansville, it is a chance to showcase their phenom, freshman guard Colt Ryan.
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by jstevrtc on December 28th, 2009

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

Current records and my standings (Last Week):

  1. Wichita State (11-1) (2)
  2. Missouri State (10-1) (1)
  3. Northern Iowa (9-1) (3)
  4. Southern Illinois (7-2) (4)
  5. Illinois State (9-2) (5)
  6. Indiana State (8-3) (6)
  7. Evansville (6-4) (7)
  8. Bradley (5-5) (8)
  9. Creighton (5-6) (10)
  10. Drake (5-7) (9)

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Valley wins the first MVC-MWC Challenge — Northern Iowa defeated Wyoming to take the Valley to win 5-4 the first ever MVC-MWC Challenge.   UNI, Illinois State, Missouri State, Indiana State, and Wichita State were the winners while Creighton, Southern Illinois, Bradley, and Drake lost.  But you look at who they lost to (New Mexico, BYU, San Diego State, and UNLV) and it still provides some questions on which conference is actually better.   But for this season, the Valley can claim they are better than the Mountain West Conference.

Surprises at the top — A year ago, you would not have seen Missouri State and Wichita State at the top of the conference with Creighton and Bradley towards the bottom.  But this is how the crazy Valley non-conference season has gone so far.  The Valley is an impressive 80-32 (.714) in non-conference play with some nice wins against top level conferences that have been missing over the past few seasons.

Conference Play starts this week — Missouri Valley Conference play starts with each team playing three games over the next week.  It will start out fast and furious and there will be some teams that will jump out of the pack early, but will be down to the wire this season as most teams feel that they can win the conference.

NON-CONFERENCE EVALUATION

  • Missouri State – 10-1 is a lot better than the 6-5 record I predicted before the season started.  The Bears have been the surprise of the Valley so far this season.  It has been behind the solid play of Kyle Weems and Eastern Kentucky transfer Adam Leonard.  They have wins over Auburn, Tulsa and Air Force with their only blemish being an overtime loss to close out the non-conference at Arkansas last week.  The conference slate starts fast for them with Evansville, Illinois State and Northern Iowa this week.
  • Wichita State — The Shockers are not much of a surprise to me because they have done exactly how I expected them to this season.  Fans in Wichita are excited about seeing what they were expecting when Gregg Marshall came in to run the program after Mark Turgeon left. Wins over Iowa, Texas Tech, and TCU are their big wins with a loss to Pitt in the CBE Classic their only faltering.  A trip to Illinois State awaits and then they host Drake and Bradley this week to open Valley play.
  • Northern Iowa — After losing against Depaul in the opening round of the Paradise Jam, many were skeptical that the Panthers could be as good or better as they turned out to be last season.  However, they turned things around rather quickly and have garnered wins over Boston College and Siena and swept the State of Iowa series against Iowa St. and Iowa.   They are on an eight game winning streak as they visit Creighton to open conference play before hosting Evansville and Missouri State.
  • Southern Illinois – At times, Southern Illinois look like they are back on track this season.   They haven’t gotten key wins against UNLV and St. Louis to make me feel like they are the Salukis of old.   They will be tested early as Indiana State comes to town, then they hit the road to Bradley and Illinois State.
  • Evansville — With all the rebuilding Evansville has had to do this season, they are actually playing like I expected with their 6-4 record.   They took Butler and Western Kentucky to the limit, but came up a little short in those upset bids.  The Purple Aces, however, could start off 0-3 in the conference with Missouri State, Northern Iowa and Creighton on the slate.
  • Indiana State — The Sycamores are an interesting team sitting at 8-3.  They won against Colorado State, Western Kentucky and Oral Roberts, but then lost winnable games against Coastal Carolina and Ball State.  With the on-again/off-again suspension of point guard Harry Marshall, the rollercoaster season could continue.  Three of the first four games are on the road in MVC play with Southern Illinois, Creighton and Drake on the slate this week.
  • Bradley — Expectations were high in Peoria to start the season, but while a season-opening road loss at BYU and another to Oklahoma State in Las Vegas were somewhat expected, their three game losing streak to close out the non-conference season was not.  Injuries have plagued the Braves but there are enough veterans on the team to pick up the slack.  A win against Illinois will look nice down the line and will help the Valley as a whole, but their non-conference record will hurt them in the long run.  Bradley will try to get back on track with a game at Drake, but then next up on the slate is Southern Illinois and Wichita State.  I still question whether a Bradley team can finish in the top four in the Valley.
  • Creighton — Creighton has probably been the most disappointing team in the Valley so far this season with the highest expectations.  Creighton scheduled up this season by playing in a solid Old Spice Classic field and going on the road against Dayton, George Mason and New Mexico.  Unfortunately all of those road games turned into losses.  What made it even worse is that all of those games were winable and Creighton had leads late in the game that they couldn’t close out.  Their five wins at home have been against patsies like Houston Baptist, Savannah St. and Florida A&M.  So unless Creighton end up winning the Valley decidedly, there is a chance they will not fulfill the annual expectation of a 20-win season.  They open up with Northern Iowa at home and then hit the New Year’s road trip to Evansville and Illinois St.
  • Illinois State — Many were skeptical about the Redbirds’ non-conference slate again this season to really know how tough this team might be.  Well, the gravy train stopped with a loss against the Bracketbuster return game with Niagara and then the next game at Ohio.  Illinois State learned from those losses with a nice road win at Utah as part of the MVC/MWC Challenge.  The Redbirds host Wichita State and Southern Illinois and then head over to Missouri State this week.  Will they start 3-0, 0-3 or somewhere in between?
  • Drake — Drake shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone how they have been this season.  Other than their dream season a couple of years ago, Drake has performed at its normal bottom-of-the-conference ways.  Losing to SIU-Edwardsville in Drake’s own tournament was the low point so far, and losing to Iowa who has struggled heavily this season really doesn’t make the Bulldogs look very good.  Bradley, Wichita State and Indiana State start the conference season for them.

WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH

Conference season goes into full swing this week and there are some intriguing matchups to kick things off.

  • 12/29, Northern Iowa @ Creighton (Local TV)—This is the first time the top two conference teams from the previous season have met to kick off the following conference season in about 20 years. Creighton needs to get off on an early start against the conference favorites and needs the win at this point in the season more than the Panthers.
  • 12/29, Wichita State @ Illinois State—This will be a key early matchup between two teams who want to be in the conversation at the end of the season. The Shockers have had problems on the road in conference play. They will need to turn that around to be in the race.
  • 1/1, Southern Illinois @ Bradley—Both teams are going in opposite directions and it will be interesting to see if Bradley can rebound from a disappointing non-conference season.
  • 1/1, Illinois St. @ Missouri State—The Bears are undefeated at home this season so far and the surprise team of the Valley gets its first big conference test.
  • 1/3, Missouri State @ Northern Iowa—Both teams are in the running for the MVC crown at this point. The Panthers want to prove that they are the cream of the Valley.
  • 1/3, Southern Illinois @ Illinois State—Already after one week, one of these teams could be in a lot of trouble after this game is over as both teams have a challenging first week of conference play.

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Checking in on… the Missouri Valley

Posted by jstevrtc on December 14th, 2009

checkinginon

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.
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Checking In On… the Missouri Valley

Posted by jstevrtc on December 1st, 2009

checkinginon

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

Current Records and My Standings:

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

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Creighton lays an egg.  Creighton had Michigan on the ropes in their opening game of the Old Spice Classic with a five point lead in the closing minutes but let Michigan back.  It took a full court drive by Creighton’s Antoine Young to send the game to overtime, but the Bluejays could not stop Manny Harris from taking over the OT period and sending Creighton to a loss. They then looked like they were stuck in quicksand against Xavier in the losers’ bracket and then finished things off with a loss against a young Iona squad. Many thought Creighton had a chance to really make some noise in this tournament and even an opportunity to win it all, but they had the worst possible scenario happen to them, going 0-3 in the tournament and creating only negative buzz for themselves on the national stage.

Missouri St. On Fire.  Missouri St. took out an undefeated Tulsa team to up their record to 5-0.  They already have two nice wins on the season with their first road contest coming up this week.

Performance in tourney play.   The Valley had varying degrees of success in the holiday tourneys held last week. Wichita St. lost to Pittsburgh, but then came back to defeat Iowa in the CBE Classic.  Bradley kept Oklahoma St. close before losing to them, but turned around to defeat Illinois.  Creighton, as mentioned earlier, went 0-3 in the Old Spice Classic.  The conference is now 36-17 in the non-conference season.

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