Checking In On… the Missouri ValleyPosted by Brian Goodman on November 30th, 2011
The Week That Was:
- Creighton Continues Up the Top 25—With a lot of teams in the lower part of the top 25 losing this week, Creighton moved up in the coaches poll from #25 to #23 while also receiving more votes in the AP poll putting them at #26. So far the Bluejays have not disappointed including their 104-81 victory over Campbell and winning the Dale Howard Classic.
- Valley Stock Rising—The Missouri Valley Conference has had some great success so far in the non-conference season. There are only 27 teams in Division I still undefeated. Only three non-BCS leagues still have undefeated teams. Two of those teams are Creighton (5-0) and Missouri State (4-0). The Valley is 37-16 so far including a 24-4 home mark.
- Northern Iowa Bounces Back—The Panthers made an impressive showing in South Padre by getting wins against Rice and Providence. Since the loss at St. Mary’s, Northern Iowa has won their last four and are getting good contributions from players like Seth Tuttle, who averaged 11 points and 6.3 rebounds in the last three games.
- Creighton (5-0)— Creighton continues to roll along. In their only game this week, the Bluejays started the game hitting their first 13 shots of the game putting them up 18 points early on Campbell. Creighton continued to blister the nets the rest of the game and set a school record shooting 70.4% from the field for the game. Creighton also dished out 30 assists on 38 baskets for the game. They currently lead the nation in assists while placing third in points per game.
- Indiana State (6-1)—The Sycamores continue to build upon last year’s success by playing with a lot of poise during the Old Spice Classic. After beating Texas Tech in the first round, the Sycamores took it to the wire against Minnesota before losing to the Gophers. Indiana State rebounded to get a win over Fairfield to take third place. Five players finished in double-figures. The balanced scoring right now by Indiana State will keep opponents off balance.
- Missouri State (4-0)— Missouri State picked up a nice win against Tulsa this week. Caleb Patterson and Jarmar Gulley had career highs in points against Tulsa, but it was Kyle Weems who carried the Bears to victory with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He hit a three-pointer in overtime to give them the lead for good. The test against Tulsa is what was needed. Games with Oral Roberts and New Mexico in the MVC/MWC Challenge will need Weems to put in more performances like those to get these road games in the win column.
- Northern Iowa (5-1)—You knew it would be a matter of time before Northern Iowa made its way back up towards the top. It may be sooner than later. The revamped team is starting to gel especially after showing the ability to finish games, like the one against Rice. A three-game slate this week of Iowa State, Colorado State, and Iowa could get the Panthers three more solid wins.
- Wichita State (3-2)—The Shockers have slipped down a little bit although they had an impressive win over UAB. The only problem, however, is that UAB is now sitting at 1-4. So it is really hard to gauge how big of a win it is right now. Shocker fans are also complaining about playing in Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena instead of Koch Arena.
- Illinois State (4-2)— The Redbirds were minutes away from securing an impressive win against Illinois in Cancun. Illinois State has received a lot of criticism over the past few seasons for their lack of high level competition during the non-conference season. With the games against Rutgers and Illinois in Cancun, it is a big deal, not only that they played these games, but that they were able to win one and almost win a second game. The Redbirds young team is starting to come together.
- Drake (4-2)—The return to the states was a positive for Drake as they dominated Cal State Northridge in a Bracketbuster return game. Rayvonte Rice and Karl Madison could be an exciting backcourt to watch as the season goes along.
- Evansville (3-2)—The Purple Aces have been overshadowed by the rest of the league at this point, so no one may have noticed their loss to Illinois-Chicago in their first road game of the season. This was a game that they should have won. Colt Ryan joined the 1,000-point club with his 18 points against the Flames. Maybe the return of Ryan Sawvell from mononucleosis will give some extra punch in the frontline and rebounding.
- Bradley (3-3)—Bradley is on a three-game losing streak after a less than impressive showing in the Chicago Invitational getting beat at home by Wofford and then soundly by Wisconsin. They finished things off with a loss to Nevada.
- Southern Illinois (1-3)— It was close and the Salukis missed 9 of their first 17 shots from the field, but Southern Illinois escaped with a win against Chicago State. The Salukis do not play another game, however, until December 7. Until then, they continue to be a work in progress.
This is a big week for the MVC as the MVC/MWC Challenge takes place as well as some yearly rival games. Here’s what to expect.
- 11/30—Creighton @ San Diego State (The Mtn)—Creighton starts a tough stretch of games against formidable opponents. The first is against the 7-1 Aztecs as a part of the MVC/MWC Challenge.
- 11/30—Northern Iowa @ Iowa State (Local/ESPN3)—This yearly match-up is always a great game to watch. Northern Iowa has been on a roll after the trip to South Padre. These road warriors will try to garner another win with already their fifth game on the road this season out of their first seven games.
- 12/3—Missouri State @ New Mexico (The Mtn)—This will be a big test for the Bears and to whether they are for real. Playing in The Pit is never easy. This is another of the MVC/MWC Challenge games on the slate this week.
- 12/4—Nebraska @ Creighton (Local/ESPN3)—Creighton will return home to take on the Huskers in the I-80 rivalry. This usually draws the biggest crowd of the year and over 18,000 fans could be in attendance, especially if the Bluejays are still undefeated. The past six games between these schools have been won by the home team.
- 12/4—UNLV @ Wichita State (Local)—After the Rebels knocked off #1 North Carolina last weekend, the Shockers are chomping at the bit to play UNLV as a part of the MVC/MWC Challenge. This could turn out to be an important game in March if the Shockers are sitting on the bubble. Being in the friendly confines of Koch Arena won’t hurt either.
- 12/6—Evansville @ North Carolina (ESPNU)—Three years ago, Evansville took the trip to Chapel Hill and despite losing by about 20 points, the Aces were competitive. This game will conclude a three-game series with the Tar Heels and give the Aces another opportunity to try and get a big win for the MVC.
- 12/6—Iowa @ Northern Iowa (Local/ESPN3)—The Panthers will be busy this week playing both of their in-state BCS rivals. Iowa has been embarrassed by Creighton and Campbell so it may not be a surprise if the Panthers walk away with a win here.
POY Stock Watch
Each week, we will take a look at the top five of the Missouri Valley Conference who could be in contention for the league’s Player of the Year. Let’s look at our top five from this past week.
- Doug McDermott, Creighton— McDermott is still going strong. In Creighton’s only game last week, he poured in 31 points and 11 rebounds in the victory over Campbell. Doug has now scored more than 20 points per game over the last four games not shooting less than 61% from the field in any of those games. He currently ranks fourth in the NCAA in scoring. His rebounding average has been rising over each game as well.
- Jake Odum, Indiana State— Odum did something over the weekend that has not been done at Indiana State in over 32 seasons—record a triple-double. In the win over Fairfield at the Old Spice Classic, Odum finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. The last Sycamore to reach this feat was the legendary Larry Bird back in 1979. Odum is eleventh in the nation in assists.
- Anthony James, Northern Iowa—James has rebounded considerably after the rough performance at St. Mary’s as he was named the MVC of the South Padre Island Invitational. In three games, James averaged 14 points per game while shooting 50% from the field. He will need to continue to be successful to help UNI make a run this season.
- Garrett Stutz, Wichita State—Stutz came up big in Wichita State’s only game of the past week garnering 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting against UAB. He only played 17 minutes showing his efficiency when he is on.
- Taylor Brown, Bradley—Brown has rebounded nicely since returning to the court this season. Although Bradley has struggled over the past three games, he led the Braves averaging 17.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game landing on the Chicago Invitational Challenge all-tournament team.