Checking In On… the Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 1st, 2012

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:

BracketBusters—On Monday night, ESPN announced the matchups for the tenth installment of the BracketBusters series.  Creighton and Wichita State fans were hoping that a few matchups would go their way with St. Mary’s headed to Creighton and the Shockers getting an opportunity to knock of undefeated Murray State. This was not meant to be as St. Mary’s and Murray State were paired together. That sent Long Beach State to Creighton and Wichita State to Davidson. The Shockers’ triple-overtime loss at Drake hurt them more than probably anyone realized with this matchup. A total of five teams from the Missouri Valley Conference were selected for games on the ESPN family of networks. Here is the full schedule of games for the MVC:

February 17:

  • Northern Iowa @ Virginia Commonwealth, 6 PM CT (ESPN2)

February 18:

  • Wichita State @ Davidson, 11 AM CT (ESPN or ESPN2)
  • Southern Illinois @ Ball State, 1 PM CT
  • Indiana State at Butler, 1 PM CT
  • Drake @ New Mexico State, 2 PM CT (ESPNU)
  • Old Dominion @ Missouri State, 4 PM CT (ESPNU)
  • Oakland @ Illinois State, 4 PM CT
  • Loyola-Chicago @ Bradley, 7 PM CT
  • Long Beach State @ Creighton, 9 PM CT (ESPN2)
  • Western Illinois @ Evansville, TBD

More Free Basketball—This week, several conference games were contested throughout and sent to overtime. Missouri State lost to Illinois State in overtime last Wednesday to kick the week off.  Then, in Des Moines on Saturday, Wichita State and Drake went to triple overtime before the Bulldogs came away as victors. Finally on Sunday, Indiana State and Evansville battled to double overtime before the Sycamores left Evansville with a victory. The league is setup this season in a way that pretty much anyone can beat anyone on any given night.

Chaos in the Standings—With Wichita State’s loss, the Shockers fell out of the tie with Creighton in the league race. With the Bluejays holding a one game lead over Wichita, the game in Omaha on February 11th becomes even more important. But after that, the rest of the league is still in flux. A total of two games separate teams three through nine in the standings and no one seems to want to break out of that pack. One week, a team like Evansville will go 3-0 and then the next go 0-2. Others, like Missouri State keep splitting their weekly games. Right now, there’s little hope for more than two teams making the NCAA Tournament, barring a run in the MVC Tournament. Even something like that could knock Wichita State off if they are sitting on the bubble.

Creighton Draws An Interesting BracketBuster Date, But It Seems Like Other Valley Teams Could Do More Harm Than Good With Their Matchups. (UPI/Will Greenblatt)

Power Rankings (last week’s rankings in parentheses)

Drake invited themselves to the Creighton and Wichita State party while the rest of the league tries to position itself for the MVC Tournament that is about a month away.

  1. Creighton (20-2, 10-1) (1): Creighton continues to roll along with a ten-game winning streak entering Wednesday’s action. There has been some debate based on statistics that Wichita State is a better team than Creighton. They may seem similar with schedules, but the Bluejays do own a win over the Shockers in Wichita. The one concern for Creighton however, is the turnovers and sloppy play as of late. The Bluejays had 19 turnovers against Bradley and were able to win, but at some point, those miscues could catch up with them. It is their teamwork that keeps winning games.
  2. Wichita State (18-4, 9-2) (2): The Shockers hit a stumbling block in their triple-OT loss against Drake and then were assigned to play at Davidson in the BracketBusters later this month. These two things were probably not something they wanted, although coach Gregg Marshall gets to go a little closer to home. One asset to Wichita State is its depth, but in the loss to Drake, Marshall only played about seven players throughout the game. Also, despite Garrett Stutz’s back problems, he logged a staggering 50 minutes in that game. 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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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 8th, 2011

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

A Look Back

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

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

The other matchups between the other conference members:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Look Ahead

Look out for these games:

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

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 21st, 2010

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

A Look Back

  • Finals Make a Slow Week—The Missouri Valley Conference was quiet for the most part this week as teams had less time on the practice court and fewer games to be played due to finals.  Each team only played once this past week except Wichita State and Northern Iowa.
  • Schedule AnomaliesSpeaking of scheduling, a few schools have had some extended time off.  Bradley has not played since their December  8 loss at Duke, but the Braves play two games this week before Christmas.  Southern Illinois has had 11 days in between games since the December 11 loss at Western Kentucky.   Indiana State lost to Purdue this past Saturday and does not play again until conference play begins on December 29.   In addition, the winning percentage of The Valley as a whole is at its lowest since 2003.  These are not good times for this league.
  • Echenique’s DebutCreighton fans have been waiting for almost a year for Gregory Echenique to step on the court for the Bluejays.  In his debut on Saturday night, Echenique scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds and tallied three blocks in 18 minutes of action.  Two games against Western Illinois and Samford will let Echenique get more court time before conference season.
  • Player of the Week—Kyle Weems, Missouri State—Weems has shown a lot of consistency in the non-conference season and his 26 points and eight rebounds led the way in the Bears’ win against Saint Louis this week.
  • Newcomer of the Week—Kenneth Harris, Evansville.—Harris was instrumental in Evansville gaining a victory against Middle Tennessee this week with his 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds.  The Aces had to hold on after blowing a 21-point lead in the final twelve minutes of the game.

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

  1. Wichita State (8-2) (2)—The Shockers played twice this week with a warm-up game against Alabama A&M before hitting the road with what amounted to basically a road game against LSU.  Garrett Stutz hit a three-pointer with eight seconds to go to give Wichita State a two-point lead and they held on for the win.  I know I had Toure’ Murry as the MVC Player of the Year this season, but he is really struggling as of late, including a 3-12 performance against LSU and five turnovers.  Tulsa comes to town before the holidays to close out the non-conference slate.
  2. Missouri State (7-3) (1)—Missouri State earned a nice win against Saint Louis on Saturday, and only fall in the rankings due to the competition they played this week compared to Wichita State.  However, I still think that overall, Missouri State is still slightly ahead of the Shockers.  The Bears play Arkansas State in a rematch of the opening round of the NIT-Tipoff.  Defensive intensity is still something they are working on.
  3. Northern Iowa (7-3) (4)— Northern Iowa heads to Las Vegas this week for a great opportunity to get a couple of wins against the top conferences in the nation.  However, even though Indiana and Colorado have potential this season, they still aren’t the top teams in their respective conferences.  At the same time these could be significant wins come March.  Kerwin Dunham has been absent lately because of plantar fasciitis.  Injuries are not good for any team trying to make the postseason.
  4. Illinois State (7-3) (3)—The Redbirds might have an opportunity here come conference play.  They didn’t win against the toughest teams in their non-conference slate, but Tim Jankovich has had a nice opportunity to play a lot of players and lineups to prepare for conference season, including Blake Mishler.  They close out on the road at UNC-Wilmington on Monday.
  5. Creighton (6-4) (5)— Creighton gets a chance to solidify their rotation with a couple of buy games this week before Christmas.  Even though Gregory Echenique looked good on Saturday night, they barely beat a bad Idaho State team, which shows they still have a ways to go.
  6. Evansville (5-4) (7)—The Purple Aces created a lot of unnecessary drama on Saturday with their win over Middle Tennessee, who they met for the second time this season.  Evansville appears to have a lot more potential than the likes of Southern Illinois and Indiana State at this point.  They definitely won’t end up in the cellar.
  7. Southern Illinois (5-5) (6)—The Salukis have not played since December 11 and may have to shake the rust off against Northern Illinois before preparing for conference play.  One thing I know they probably have been working on is rebounding.  But they are still looking for that leader they have not had since Bryan Mullins was there.
  8. Indiana State (5-6) (8)—The Sycamores battled Purdue this past weekend, but just came up short in their final game of the non-conference season.  They now have until December 29 to prepare for Bradley in their conference opener which now looks like a winnable game.  They also have two very capable players in Jake Kelly and Dwayne Lathan, but they have put a little too much pressure on themselves.
  9. Bradley (4-5) (9)— The Braves are still recovering from their blowout at Duke and will play two games this week against Jackson State and Detroit. Jim Les has the opportunity to finalize his rotation and hopefully find the players that will ultimately replace Taylor Brown and Sam Maniscalco who are both out for the season with injury.   Now add backup point guard Dyricus Simms-Edwards to the injury list with a sprained knee.   Dodie Dunson is now the only option at point guard for Bradley.
  10. Drake (4-5) (10)— Drake came up short against their in-state rival Iowa, but have a couple games this week against Dartmouth and Chicago State.  A loss to either of these teams could mean disaster for this young team.  They also have to understand how to break the press.

A Look Ahead

There are only a couple games before the holidays and the start of conference season that are of significance.

  • 12/21—Tulsa @ Wichita State at Intrust Bank Arena (Local TV)—After the thrilling victory against LSU on a neutral court this past weekend, the Shockers leave their normal comfy confines of Koch Arena to instead play downtown at the brand new Intrust Bank Arena against the always tough Tulsa.  This could end up being their best win of the non-conference season.
  • 12/22—Detroit @ Bradley (No TV)—With the injuries Bradley has had to deal with this season, this game will be an interesting one to see if they can pull out what might have looked like a guarantee win at the beginning of the season.
  • 12/22-23—Northern Iowa at Las Vegas Classic (CBS College Sports)—The Panthers head to Las Vegas right before Christmas to play a couple of games.  They open first on Wednesday against Indiana and then play either Colorado or New Mexico on Thursday.  These could be two great wins for Northern Iowa after the slow start they have had this season and set them up with some great confidence before the start of conference play.
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 22nd, 2010

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

A Look Back

  • Southern Illinois already in trouble: The Salukis had the opportunity against Illinois and former coach Bruce Weber to open the season.  Both teams were hot to start, but Southern Illinois cooled off and Illinois’ pressure defense smothered the Salukis and they left Champaign with a 85-63 loss.  Three days later as a part of ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoops marathon, many references were made to Michigan’s Chris Webber and his infamous timeout in the NCAA finals back in 1993 when Southern Illinois did the same thing against Northeastern while tied in overtime.  On a rebound with only a couple seconds remaining, the Salukis called timeout, but they did not have one.  A technical foul was called and Northeastern hit one of the free throws.  Controversy ensues, but Southern Illinois starts at 0-2.
  • Bradley loses Taylor Brown: Right as the season was about to start, Bradley announced that Taylor Brown would not play for the Braves this season.  It appears Brown is suffering from a cardiac condition that requires three months of rest to properly evaluate his condition.  This is a big loss for Bradley.
  • Missed opportunities: The Missouri Valley Conference has already suffered from some missed opportunities in the first week of the season.  Northern Iowa took a trip to Syracuse on the opening weekend.  The darling of the NCAA Tournament last season went home with their tail between their legs as the Orange dominated the Panthers for a 68-46 victory.  Drake got blasted by Iowa State 91-43.  Missouri State came up short against Tennessee.  Add in the Southern Illinois losses and the chances to win a couple games from the Power Six conferences slipped away.

Player of the Week

Antoine Young, Creighton – Young led the Bluejays in all three wins to start the season.  He averaged 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists per game this week in the wins over Alabama State, Northern Arizona and Louisiana.

Newcomer of the Week

Kenneth Harris, Evansville – The juco transfer has made an impact early for the Purple Aces as he scored 21 points on 7-8 shooting in his debut against Oakland City and hit key free throws down the stretch and grabbed eight rebounds for Evansville in their 77-73 victory over Texas-San Antonio. 

Power Rankings

  1. Bradley (3-0)–Bradley is off to a hot start, but the games are close and they are still adjusting to playing without Taylor Brown.  The injury bug has hurt the Braves over the past few seasons.  Dodie Dunson was out all last season and Andrew Warren was out during the 2008-09 campaign.  These types of injuries have kept Bradley from reaching their full potential.  But they are surviving right now and they are doing it with the help of their bench.
  2. Creighton (4-0): Creighton is not winning with style points, but have brushed off a couple scares with hot-shooting Northern Arizona and Louisiana squads.  The biggest difference so far through the first three games—free throw shooting.  The Bluejays have gotten to the free throw line 85 times already, shooting over 81% while the opponents have only gone to the charity stripe 26 times.  Games against Iowa State and Kennesaw State are on the schedule this week.
  3. Wichita State (1-0): The Shockers haven’t done too much so far and have almost gone unnoticed during the first week of play.  They graded themselves after their win against Texas Southern.   Wichita State hopes to make a splash this week at the Maui Invitational in Hawaii, starting with UConn.
  4. Missouri State (2-2): Missouri State gave Tennessee all they could handle in their NIT loss on Wednesday.  Then they had to turn around and play Tulsa on Friday night and looked tired.  Playing four games in seven days has taken its toll already on the Bears with the starters playing a lot of minutes and some suffering the flu bug. They need to rebound quickly as they have two more games in the next two days. They are hosting the consolation rounds against Pepperdine and a rematch of the championship game against Pacific.
  5. Illinois State (2-0): The Redbirds have started the season undefeated with a whole slew of new players and are trying to go into the season without pressure.  Both of their games were extremes.  They blew out SIU-Edwardsville, but they blew a 22 point lead against Tennessee State that they eventually held on to win.  Jackie Carmichael is trying to be the team leader for Illinois State so far, but he needs to stay out of foul trouble.
  6. Evansville (2-0): The story with Evansville is the fact that they lost one of their exhibition games.  However for the games that count, they have come away with some confidence-building wins.  In the 77-73 win against Texas-San Antonio, the game was tied 17 times and the lead changed 26 times.  Having a game down to the wire will benefit the Purple Aces early in the season. They now take on the Indiana Hoosiers for the first time in 15 years.
  7. Northern Iowa (1-2): The Panthers are still trying to adjust without Ali Faroknamesh, Adam Koch and Jordan Eglseder.  Northern Iowa unveiled their Sweet 16 banner this week before their game against Division III Coe College.    The returning players and new players are still looking for their roles. They hope that a game against North Dakota will help make that better
  8. Southern Illinois (0-2): I’m sure Southern Illinois didn’t plan on starting off 0-2, but they did and it may take longer than I realized to get them back to their MVC glory days.  23 turnovers, missed three pointers and missed free throws against Northeastern will not win basketball games.  They now focus their energies to the Chicago Invitational Challenge.  They first host Ausin Peay and Charleston Southern which should produce their first wins of the season.
  9. Drake (1-1): Drake started off with a win over Texas Southern, but are licking their wounds after the loss to Iowa State.  After being tied four minutes into the game, the Bulldogs missed 14 straight shots and Iowa State went on a 23-1 run during the next 10 minutes and they could never recover.  After a week off between games, they need to be ready for the Great Alaska Shootout this week.
  10. Indiana State (2-3): The Sycamores have already played four games, but they haven’t turned out as they had hoped to start new head coach Greg Lansing’s career, leaving the coach searching for answers.  After winning their first game of the season against Texas-Pan American, they suffered losses against Loyola-Chicago, Eastern Kentucky and Ball State.  In their latest loss against Ball State, the Sycamores had 26 turnovers and have now lost 24 straight on the Cardinal home court.   After going to Oral Roberts this past Saturday,   Indiana State will finally open their home season this Saturday against Buffalo.

A Look Ahead

Here are the games of significance this week as the MVC gets more opportunities against power conference teams.

  • 11/21: Creighton vs. Iowa State in Des Moines, Iowa (No TV)—Coach Greg McDermott leads the Bluejays to take on his former team.  This game was already planned before McDermott left the Cyclones to coach Creighton during the offseason.  There may be some emotional fans during this one.
  • 11/21: Evansville @ Indiana (Big 10 Network)—The Purple Aces go into this contest undefeated and they will see how Tom Crean’s rebuilding is going.  You never know what could happen in this one.  Indiana will travel to Evansville next season to open the new Evansville downtown arena.
  • 11/22-24: Wichita State @ Maui Invitational (ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU) — The Shockers have some great opportunities for themselves and the MVC this week in the always-stacked Maui Invitational.  If they get past Connecticut in the first round, they would likely play Michigan State.  A final game could include Washington, Kentucky, Virginia or Oklahoma.  Anything less than two wins for Wichita State would be a disappointment.
  • 11/24-27—Drake @ Great Alaska Shootout (Fox College Sports Pacific)—Drake heads north to hopefully get themselves on track after the blasting at Iowa State.  They open against Southern Utah and then either Ball State or St. Johns. Houston Baptist, Arizona State, Weber State and host Alaska Anchorage round out that field.
  • 11/26—Southern Illinois vs. Purdue in Chicago, IL (Big 10 Network)—Friday night starts the four-team tourney part of the Chicago Invitational as the Salukis get to face another former coach in Matt Painter and the Purdue Boilermakers.  Wright State and Richmond will be the options on Saturday to close it out.

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