Patrick Marshall of White & Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.
Current Records and My Standings (Conference Standings) (Last Week)
- Northern Iowa 21-2 (12-1) (1)
- Wichita State 20-5 (9-4) (2)
- Illinois State 16-8 (7-6) (3)
- Indiana State 14-10 (6-7) (7)
- Missouri State 16-8 (6-7) (6)
- Creighton 12-12 (7-6) (5)
- Bradley 12-11 (7-6) (8)
- Drake 11-14 (6-7) (4)
- Southern Illinois 13-10 (5-8) (9)
- Evansville 6-17 (0-13) (10)
STORIES OF THE WEEK
2010 Bracketbusters—The people in Bristol announced the 11 TV matchups for this season’s Bracketbusters for Friday and Saturday, February 20th and 21st, while the other conference commissioners matched up the rest of the games of the other 76 teams. Here are the matchups for the Valley teams and TV info for those selected to play on the ESPN family of networks:
- Northern Iowa vs. Old Dominion, Friday, February 19th, 6PM, ESPN2
- Wichita State @ Utah State, Saturday, February 20th, 11PM, ESPN2
- Nevada @ Missouri State, Saturday, 2PM, ESPN2
- Morehead State @ Ilinois State, Saturday, 4PM
- Indiana State @ Green Bay, Saturday, 7PM
- Loyola (Ill.) @ Creighton, Saturday, 8:35PM
- Drexel @ Bradley, Saturday, 7PM
- Drake @ Cal State-Northridge, Saturday, 9PM
- Western Michigan @ Southern Illinois, Saturday, 2PM
- Illinois-Chicago @ Evansville, Saturday, 7PM
Valley coaches in favor of expanded tournament—On the weekly Missouri Valley Conference teleconference, the question of expanding the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams was deemed pretty favorable by the coaches in the Missouri Valley Conference. With the Valley looking at a one bid for the third straight year, I guess you could understand why they would like it. However, I still think it takes away from the integrity of the hard work done throughout the season and the build-up would not be the same when teams are expecting to go to the NCAA Tourney by default every year.
Northern Iowa declared MVC champs—Ok, so mathematically several teams have a chance to catch up and tie or overtake Northern Iowa, but come on, with five conference games remaining, Northern Iowa has basically run away with the Valley regular season crown while all the other teams are just beating each other up. When the Panthers knocked off Wichita State last week, they staved off their final threat in the regular season.
Rivalry Week in Full Swing—The known rivalries in the Valley will all be in action this week. Creighton heads to Carbondale to take on Southern Illinois where the Salukis are looking to respond to the blowout the Bluejays handed to them last season on SIU’s home floor. The Battle of I-76 between Bradley and Illinois State will be played again with Bradley seeking revenge for getting run off the court a couple weeks ago at Redbird Arena. Drake and Northern Iowa hook up again as well in an in-state matchup.
Northern Iowa (2-0 this week, 20-1 in last 21 games, 5 game win streak)—The Panthers are getting every team’s best shot, but they are continuing to find ways to win. Against Wichita State on Wednesday, the Panthers survived a late rally by the Shockers to get the win. Saturday they came from behind to beat Southern Illinois and Adam Koch scored the team’s last 11 points. They hope to continue their domination against Drake and Bradley this week.
BUMPY HIGHWAY FOR 2nd-9th
Bradley (2-0 this week) – After going 0-2 last week, Bradley turned things around to go 2-0. This is just one example of how the rest of the Valley has played this season. A winning shot by Will Egolf gave Bradley a thrilling victory over Drake. It is a big week for the Braves this week as they get a shot at the top of the conference with Northern Iowa and Illinois State. The other good news for them is that both games are at home.
Wichita State (1-1 this week)—The Shockers just seem to be coasting through under the radar for the most part. After losing a heartbreaker against Northern Iowa for their chance to try and catch them, the Shockers had to rally from 15 down in the final nine minutes against a shorthanded Indiana State team to pull out a victory. It’s the little things that players like Aaron Ellis bring to the court for the Shockers that has helped them become so successful this season. Games against Evansville and Missouri State should give Wichita State the opportunity to lock down their second place standing in the Valley.
Illinois State (1-1 this week)— Win one, lose one….that is the mantra of the Valley over the past several weeks and the Redbirds have not been left out. The big troubles have been road games with last week’s loss coming at Indiana State. Illinois State is now 1-5 on the road. With Bradley and Creighton on tap this week, can they get a road victory? The other question—is Osiris Eldridge not playing as well this season compared to last? Appears that way.
Missouri State (1-1 this week)— The Bears are the highest scoring team in the Valley as well as trying to be a great defensive team as well. In their win against Creighton this week, they displayed both as they went on 11-1 and 17-0 runs to take the Bluejays behind the woodshed, 70-52. Creighton only had 30 points with nine minutes to go. Southern Illinois and Wichita State give the Bears opportunities to move up this week.
Creighton (1-1 this week)—Creighton, like Illinois State, has big problems winning a road game. After getting crushed at Missouri State this week, the Bluejays are now 2-11 in road/neutral games this season and it looks like they may not get a road victory the rest of the year. Luckily they have two home games this week against Indiana State and Illinois State. It is so dire for Creighton fans now, that the focus is almost off the men’s basketball team as fans find the Creighton Dance Team more interesting.
Indiana State (1-1 this week)—The Sycamores took a big blow this week losing point guard Harry Marshall along with Dwayne Lathan to injuries suffered during the Illinois State game that will pretty much take them out until the end of the season. They had a valiant effort against Wichita State on the road, but didn’t have enough gas to keep the Shockers from stealing the victory down the stretch. Creighton and Drake are on the schedule this week.
Southern Illinois (1-1 this week)— The Salukis couldn’t upset the Panthers even though they hoped their depth would be key this week, so they continue to be an average team. Tony Freeman had weird feelings playing a game in the state of Iowa again. They got a victory against Missouri State, but cannot relish in it too much because they turn around and play them again this week along with doormat Evansville
Drake (0-2 this week)—Drake had a nice run, but they have now lost three of four games. The three losses have all come on the road. Josh Young keeps getting accolades before he is crowned the school’s all-time scoring leader. They host conference leaders Northern Iowa this week and travel to Indiana State.
BLEW A TIRE AND ENGINE BROKE DOWN
Evansville (0-2 this week, 14 game losing streak)— Colt Ryan averaged 24 points in his two games this week against Creighton and Bradley. Before the end of the season, Ryan will shatter the freshman scoring record for this school. Unfortunately, the Purple Aces continue to lose. With the City of Evansville building a new Arena and the Aces expected to play there, will there be enough people in the seats to make the switch? Wichita State and Southern Illinois the next ones to beat up on the Aces.
WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH
Pretty much every game is key in the Valley this week, but here are the best matchups and a couple most people should be able to watch on TV.
- 2/9—Illinois State @ Bradley (Local TV)—Yes, most won’t be able to watch this one, but Bradley has declared a “Blackout” as the Redbirds try to come in and sweep their home-home series this season.
- 2/10—Northern Iowa @ Drake (Local TV throughout Iowa) –This game has to get mentioned because of an in-state rivalry and the Panthers are ranked in the top 25 so every game is important for them.
- 2/13—Illinois State @ Creighton (Local TV in Omaha and Illinois)—This game will determine who will likely play on Thursday night in St. Louis in the MVC Tournament.
- 2/13—Northern Iowa @ Bradley (Fox Sports Net)—Either at home or on the road, the Panthers have been dominating the Valley. Can it continue in Peoria?
- 2/14—Missouri State @ Wichita State (ESPNU)—The Shockers hope to lock in second place in the Valley with this game