That’s Debatable: On the Conference Challenges…

Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2010

That’s Debatable is back for another year of expert opinions, ridiculous assertions and general know-it-all-itude.  Remember, kids, there are no stupid answers, just stupid people.  We’ll try to do one of these each week during the season.  We’re fairly discerning around here, but if you want to be included, send us an email with your take telling us why at

This Week’s Topic: The ACC/Big Ten Challenge just ended, and the Missouri Valley/Mountain West Challenge began last night.  The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series gears up in earnest this evening after one game last weekend.  The Big East/SEC Invitational starts next week.  Are you a fan of these conference challenge events and what would you suggest to the powers-that-be to improve them?

Brian Otskey, RTC Contributor

These inter-conference events are good publicity generators and certainly give teams opportunities for quality wins early in the season. I’m a fan of the concept but aside from the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, these events do not receive enough national coverage. ESPN is obviously the driving force behind the ACC/Big Ten but I’d like to see them become more involved in the other events. The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series would be a good start. ESPN televises some games but most are on FSN, stretched out over almost a month. Then we have the Big East/SEC Invitational. The Worldwide Leader covers it but the event has just four teams from each league competing. I realize the Big East is a 16-team monstrosity but why can’t we have 12 Big East teams play all 12 SEC teams over three days? Instead we have two games per night at neutral locations played over two non-consecutive days, hardly creating any buzz. When it comes to the Mountain West and Missouri Valley, let’s face it: most casual fans don’t care about non-name teams competing against each other. It’s a sad reality for us diehards, but casual fan interest makes the money and drives ratings.

David Ely, RTC Contributor

I think any event that prompts teams from the big conferences to play each other rather than the smaller schools is a good idea. Duke playing Michigan State is much better for the sport than Duke-UNC-Asheville or Michigan State-Eastern Michigan. That being said, there are things that could be done done to re-energize these events. I for one am tired of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It’s time to mix up the conferences. Give me an ACC/Big East Challenge to pit the two supposed basketball meccas against each other in a winner-takes-all series. How about a Big Ten/Big 12 Hardwood Series? There’s already a little bit of bad blood between the two conferences because of football realignment. Basketball should capitalize on that hatred. Whoever wins the first series gets the Texas football program? 

Zach Hayes, RTC Editor/Contributor

I’m a huge fan of these conference challenge events. It forces coaches to play true road games against quality opponents and sets up marquee matchups that normally may not occur. Two years ago, I distinctly remember Duke was sent to Purdue in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge in a battle of top-10 teams. Because Coach K prefers to play neutral site games in most years rather than visit the home floors of elite non-conference competition, that Duke-Purdue game felt like a rare treat that wouldn’t have happened if the ACC-Big Ten Challenge was never invented. As someone that appreciates the mid-major game, the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge, while it lacks a premiere TV deal, is a fantastic way for quality Cinderella candidates to face off in December. The only change I would make is moving the ACC/Big Ten Challenge to open the season in mid-November. This solves the problem of a lackluster, trickling start to the college hoops season and instead the campaign would open with a bang that Michigan State-Duke or Purdue-Virginia Tech provides. Surely those two conferences would welcome the change as well, with basketball-starved fans tuning in to ESPN in even greater droves than in the current setup.

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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by rtmsf on December 21st, 2009

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

Current Records and my standings (Last Week)

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


  • MVC-MWC Challenge winding down—The Valley continues to lead the challenge against the Mountain West Conference 4-3 heading into the final weekend of games.  Illinois State went on the road to defeat Utah and Creighton had a chance to close out the conference’s victory but lost a huge lead on New Mexico and left Albuquerque with a loss.  Now it is up to Drake and Northern Iowa this coming weekend to close out the first year of a several year agreement for each conference to play one another.  In the coming years all of the Challenge games will be played in a one-week time period instead of throughout the non-conference season.
  • Wichita State takes down ranked team—Wichita invited a ranked Texas Tech team into Koch Arena, the first non-conference ranked team to visit since Kansas in the 1991-92 season, and sent them home with a loss.  That must be why teams like that don’t come back or want to play Wichita at home. 
  • Missouri St.  heading to undefeated non-conference record—Missouri St. defeated St. Louis Saturday night and Rick Majerus is ready to anoint the Bears as the winners of the Valley for this season.  Well, they are still undefeated and could stay that way if they can steal a win in Arkansas Tuesday night.   Could this be Drake version 2.0?


  • Missouri St (1-0 this week)—As mentioned above, Missouri St. is one of a few undefeated teams in the nation right now.  It is due to their defense.  The Bears finish out the non-conference slate in Fayetteville with a “lucky they still have a team”  Arkansas squad.   About the only thing wrong with Missouri State is Will Creekmore’s jersey.
  •  Wichita St (1-0 this week)—Wichita continues to be on a roll.  Andy Katz asked whether Wichita would be undefeated if they had Clevin Hannah and he was able to play against Pitt at the CBE Classic.  Either way, the Shockers are the real deal this season.    They host North Dakota State this week to complete their non-conference slate.
  •  Northern Iowa  (1-0 this week)—Head Coach Ben Jacobson went back home to North Dakota this past week, but brought his UNI team in to take a victory.  Northern Iowa is at about the same point as Wichita right now.  Coach Jacobson is pretty happy with his team now, but he wasn’t at the beginning of the season.  They host Wyoming this week as a part of the MVC/MWC Challenge. 
  • Southern Illinois (2-0 this week) –You can tell the reputation of the Salukis has taken a hit when they went out to Vegas this week in an invitational but their games were overshadowed by the women’s matchups in the same tournament.   However in both games this weekend against San Diego and San Francisco, SIU pulled out one point wins to complete a solid non-conference slate until a late January game against Western Kentucky.  Southern Illinois is off for the holidays until conference play starts in a week and a half. 
  • Evansville (2-0 this week)—Evansville is continuing to build themselves back up with two wins this week.  They took a blow with Kavon Lacey, one of their emerging team leaders, going out for the season with knee surgery.  However, they are really spreading the scoring around and starting to come together.  A big road test at Austin Peay this week will see how far they have actually come. 
  • Indiana St. (1-0 this week)—The Sycamores escaped with a win in Toledo this week on a Jake Kelly basket with  six seconds left and they are now again without point guard Harry Marshall who has had a lot of discipline problems at Indiana State.  The Sycamores look like a solid team, but they don’t need these distractions.  A trip to IUPUI this week will test them.


  • Drake (0-1 this week)—Drake lost to Iowa this week and they sort of have to feel bad that a key player for the Hawkeye team that beat them was then arrested later that evening for public intoxication.  However, Coach Phelps feels pretty good about the recent recruiting classes, but can they produce on the court?    San Diego State comes to town as the possible deciding game of the MVC/MWC Challenge.
  • Bradley (0-2 this week)—This team is on the verge of collapse.  Not only is Dodie Dunson out for the year with a broken arm, but they also lost Dyricus Simms-Edwards to a foot injury for 3-6 weeks.  Bradley lost this week to Loyola on a crazy off-balance half court shot and then got absolutely blown out by Iowa State Sunday.    The Braves now sit in limbo with a three-game losing streak for nine days until conference season starts at Drake.
  • Creighton (1-1 this week)—Many do not have a good read on this Creighton team this season.  They have been so close in so many games against tough competition, but lack the killer instinct to finish the games.  The latest collapse was in New Mexico this weekend.  Creighton was up 15 points at one point in the first half, shooting almost 75%, but then New Mexico finished the first half cutting into the lead and by the middle of the second half the Lobos made the adjustments needed and pulled out a come-from-behind win.   They get a snoozer in Houston Baptist this week with their only wins this season coming so far on their home court. 
  • Illinois State (1-1 this week)—Illinois State has had enough chinks in their armor exposed to lose on the road to Ohio, but then came back to get a big win at Utah as part of the MVC/MWC Challenge.   The Redbirds need another player to step up to help Osiris Eldridge and that player might be Austin Hill.  The Redbirds get a snoozer of their own with Grambling State this week.


A light week due to the holidays and very few key games except for the conclusion of the MVC/MWC Challenge, but also the last week of non-conference action for the MVC.  Conference play will start after the Christmas holiday.

  • 12/22, San Diego St. @ Drake—Drake is starting to turn things around, but this will be a tough game against the Aztecs that could decide the MVC/MWC Challenge. 
  • 12/22, Missouri St. @ Arkansas—Although Arkansas has so many problems, this could be a nice road win for the Bears and a great close to their amazing non-conference season. 
  • 12/23, Northern Iowa @ Wyoming—A key matchup in the MVC/MWC Challenge’s final games.  UNI is on a roll lately.
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