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. (

  • 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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RTC Summer Updates: Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 27th, 2011

With the the NBA Draft concluded and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. The latest update comes courtesy of our MVC correspondent, Patrick Marshall.

The summer has been a busy one for the Missouri Valley Conference. They are hoping the 2011-12 season will be one that sees the conference become a multiple-bid league again.  They haven’t had multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament since the 2006-07 season.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • Coaching Changes: The MVC only had two coaching changes in the offseason.  First, after leading Missouri State to its first MVC regular season title, Cuonzo Martin was lured away from the Bears to Tennessee.  He was replaced by Purdue assistant Paul Lusk, who weeks earlier might have been in line to succeed Matt Painter had Painter left Purdue to become the new head coach at Missouri.  He has Valley ties as a player at Southern Illinois in his college days, where he helped the Salukis to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances.  On the flip-side, Bradley head coach Jim Les was fired after nine seasons with the Braves.  After taking Bradley to the Sweet Sixteen in the 2005-06 season, he had trouble getting the team back to that level.  Les was replaced by Kent State head coach Geno Ford.  These moves have caused a bit of a frenzy as Kent State filed a lawsuit against Bradley due to the way they hired Ford.  Les has since been named the new head coach at UC Davis (where his son currently plays), and he too has filed a lawsuit of his own against his former school disputing the settlement he was paid from his dismissal.  Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall and Northern Iowa’s Ben Jacobson were speculated for many jobs over the summer, but they both chose to stay with their respective schools.
  • Creighton’s International Duo: Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Gregory Echenique have had a summer to remember.  McDermott spent the end of June through the middle of July playing for the Team USA U-19 squad helping the team to a fifth place finish in Latvia.  McDermott led the team in three-pointers made, was second in minutes, and third in scoring for the American team during the FIBA Championships.  McDermott’s frontcourt counterpart Echenique is currently in Venezuela as a member of his nation’s national team.  Echenique and his teammates will try to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in Argentina at the beginning of September before he returns to Creighton for the fall semester.
  • League Talent: There have been several different examples of decisions made by the league’s top talent this offseason.  First off is the 2011 MVC Player of the Year, Kyle Weems.  Weems earned his degree from Missouri State, and with a year of eligibility remaining, he could have easily decided to transfer to a different school to play right away, especially with a new coach coming into town.  Instead, he decided to stay in Springfield for his senior season.  In an opposite move, Bradley’s Sam Maniscalco was a senior last season for the Braves, but he spent much of it recovering from an ankle injury.  Early last season it was decided that he would shut things down and apply for a medical redshirt, which he received.  Then came the firing of Les.  During Maniscalco’s redshirt season, he was able to complete his degree.  With a year of eligibility still remaining and a new coach coming to town, the all-MVC player decided to transfer and finish his college career at Illinois.  Finally, you have Drake’s Ravonte Rice.  A runner-up for the MVC Freshman of the Year last season, Rice has not kept it secret that he isn’t necessarily happy at Drake, but that he isn’t going to transfer… at least not yet.  This is a pivotal year for the Bulldogs, as two years worth of the conference’s best recruiting classes are now sophomores and juniors that have had marginal success.  How Drake does this year could determine whether Rice stays or goes.

Despite a coaching transition going into his senior year, 2011 MVC Player of the Year Kyle Weems will stick it out for the Bears. (Missouri State University)

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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/
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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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