Preseason 2014-15 MVC Power Rankings

Now that we have started the 5th installment of our MVCfans.com predictions, I offer my final preseason power rankings until our polling has completed.  There is no doubt that Wichita State will be selected to win the Valley.  I think UNI is clearly second best as they return nearly all of their team from last year’s 3rd place finish.  After that, it become markedly more difficult.  Below is my best guess as to what we’ll see when the season begins in just over two months.

MVC Power Rankings:

1) Wichita St – Shockers will again be a unanimous pick and WSU should have three pre-season 1st team All-MVC players.  Even though they lost Cleanthony Early to the NBA, I expect Wichita State will be favored in every league game again this year. Expecting Gregg Marshall to run the table again is asking too much, right? Well, I’m not betting against him.
2) Northern Iowa - Ben Jacobson returns 4 starters to a team that would be strong enough to be chosen as a Valley favorite in some years. If the Panthers can get Virginia transfer Paul Jesperson to have a breakout year, Panthers could be in the NCAA discussion come March.
3) Missouri State - If Marcus Marshall can return to his pre-injury self, Bears can beat anyone on a given night. Austin Ruder and Gavin Thurman provide needed support as MSU looks like the “best of the rest” in the MVC.
4) Evansville - DJ Balentine and Egidijus Mockevicius might be the best inside-out combination in the MVC, but has the cast around them improved enough? Croatian Mislav Brzoja leads a group of talented first year players who should challenge for an upper division finish if the pieces fit.
5) Southern Illinois - Barry Hinson lost Desmar Jackson, but SIU returns a young cast led by possible all-league player Anthony Beane Jr.  Salukis avoided Thursday night last season and finished .500 in league play which was progress, but I’m not sure their ceiling is much higher this season.
6) Indiana St - In the first year post-Odum, Coach Greg Lansing returns familiar names – Kitchell, Gant, Smith – but will it be enough to again finish near the top of the MVC standings? I think this year’s Sycs team takes a step back.
7) Bradley – Braves graduated their two leading scorers in Walt Lemon Jr and Tyshon Pickett, so slotting the Braves 7th here might be a bit generous. Give yourself a pat on the back if you knew that Omari Grier will be Bradley’s leading returning scorer.
8 ) Illinois State – Post-season defections of Zach Lofton, Nick Zeisloft, and Kaza Keane leave Dan Muller with an inexperienced group. He will rely heavily on Daishon Knight while hoping that freshmen MiKyle McIntosh and Deontae Hawkins can contribute immediately. I think that’s too much to ask.
9) Loyola - Milton Doyle and Christian Thomas are among the best returning players in the Valley, but will they have more support around them this season than they did last? To me it looks like probably not enough to elevate the Ramblers from a play-in date at Arch Madness.
10) Drake - Coach Giacoletti gets Gary Ricks Jr back for one more year after he received an extra year of eligibility, but Drake will need more from their big men than what they got from Seth VanDeest (4.9 ppg, 5.0 rbg) if the Bulldogs want to avoid the bottom of the league standings.

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“Historic” or not… Arch Madness to remain in STL until at least 2018

Missouri Valley Commissioner Doug Elgin announced in a (insert chuckle here) “historic” press conference today that the league would continue to hold the Valley’s post-season conference tournament at the ScottTrade Center in downtown St. Louis. The agreement will keep the annual championship in St. Louis through at least 2018 and the league holds options for 2019 and 2020.

Speculation of a possible move from the long time location swirled in March when a report circulated that the MVC had requested bids from 4 cities: St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, and Las Vegas. In the end, however, Elgin and Co. determined that recommitting to St. Louis was the league’s best option.

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Dallas Baptist defeats Illinois State 4-1 to win first MVC baseball title

Dallas Baptist scored 3 runs in the 8th inning to defeat Illinois State 4-1 in the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference baseball tournament played in Terre Haute, Indiana. It was the first title for the Patriots who began participating in the Valley baseball tournament as an affiliate member in 2014.

Dallas Baptist will learn their NCAA tournament destination and seed on ESPNU, Monday, May 26 at 11am.  The 16 regional hosts for the NCAA baseball tournament will be revealed tonight approximately 8pm.


2014 MVC All-Tournament Team
1B – Mason Snyder, Illinois State
2B – Drew Turbin, Dallas Baptist
SS – Camden Duzenack, Dallas Baptist
3B – Brock Stewart, Illinois State
C – Mike Hollenbeck, Illinois State
UT – Mike Wesolowski, Dallas Baptist
DH – Logan Leverett, Illinois State
OF – Daniel Dwyer, Illinois State
OF – Tate Matheny, Missouri State
OF – Max Murphy, Bradley
P – Dylan Craig, Illinois State
P – Cy Sneed, Dallas Baptist

Most Outstanding Player:
Camden Duzenack, Dallas Baptist

Illinois State news: Lofton, Keane, and Zeisloft transferring

Reports out of Normal indicate that three Illinois State Redbirds are transferring from the program. All sophomores with regard to eligibility, guards Zach Lofton, Kaza Keane, and Nick Zeisloft have chosen to leave Illinois State.

Lofton was the second leading scorer for Coach Dan Muller’s team at 11.3 ppg. Zeisloft was a three point specialist and key contributor averaging 25 min/game – he had a career high 8 rebounds in a CBI win over Texas A&M. Keane was a highly regarded recruit who was expected to immediately fill in when Nic Moore left for SMU, but inconsistency limited his minutes.

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Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall named Henry Iba National Coach of the Year

Congrats to Wichita State Head Coach Gregg Marshall on this well deserved honor.

Link to announcement: Marshall Named National Coach of the Year

Report: MVC asks 4 cities to bid on hosting Arch Madness

Could Arch Madness be leaving St. Louis?

According a report by Blair Kerkhoff in the Kansas City Star, the Missouri Valley Conference has sent out requests for proposals to four cities potentially interested in hosting the league’s post season tournament beginning in 2016. The cities asked to consider a bid are St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, and Las Vegas.

Read the full article here: Kansas City Star: MVC asks four cities for proposals to hold its tournament

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Arch Madness report – Saturday, March 8

Here is a quick look back at another entertaining quarterfinal Friday at Arch Madness.

Best game: SIU 63 UNI 58
Led by Desmar Jackson’s 20 first half points, the Salukis bolted out to a 36-18 halftime lead.  Northern Iowa steadily battled back and tied the game at 52-52 with just over three minutes to play.  SIU, however, scored the next five points and salted away the game at the free throw line.

Player of the Day:
Lots of choices here, but Desmar Jackson gets the nod.  The Salukis senior guard posted 23 points and 11 rebounds in their victory over Northern Iowa last night.  Also notable were Evansille’s DJ Ballentine (31 points), Illinois State’s Zach Lofton (25 points), and Missouri State freshman Austin Ruder (21 points / 6 three pointers).  I hate not mentioning Cleanthony Early and Jake Odum who also posted impressive stat lines, but that’s exactly what we have come to expect from these two multiple time All-MVC performers.

Surprise of the Day:
One night after hitting a game winning, buzzer beater three pointer and making SportsCenter’s Top 10, MVC Freshman and Newcomer of the Year – Milton Doyle of Loyola – scored only 5 points on 1-7 shooting in the Ramblers 75-62 loss.

Looking forward to:
-Can Wichita State continue their unbeaten streak and move to 33-0?
-How many Southern Illinois fans will make the trip from Carbondale for today’s semifinal game? If the Salukis pull another upset, the Arch Madness final would be very well attended.

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Fred VanVleet named MVC Player of the Year; 6 players named to first team

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2014 Missouri Valley Conference tournament – Arch Madness bracket

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MVCfans.com 2014 Player of the Year and All-MVC teams

On Friday, I announced my choices for Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year. Today, I am pleased to recognize the finest players in the Valley with my All-MVC first and second teams, as well as those deserving of honorable mention.

Larry Bird Player of the Year

Fred VanVleet – Wichita State

Stats only begin to tell the story of how important Fred VanVleet is to Wichita State.  In some ways he reminds me of a former MVC Player of the Year, Adam Emmenecker – an unflappable leader on the court who makes all of his teammates better.  Just a sophomore, VanVleet has led his team to a Final 4 and an undefeated regular season in his two years as the Shockers’ floor general – find me a point guard in America with a better resume that that.

On the court, VanVleet averages an efficient 12+ ppg – 48% FG, 42% 3PT, 83%FT.  He leads the Shockers is assists (5.2/gm) and steals (2.0/gm) while also averaging 4.0 rebounds per game. Playing on an undefeated league champion team with multiple deserving POY candidates, VanVleet is the proverbial “straw that stirs the drink”.

Congratulations Fred VanVleet on being selected as the winner of the MVCfans.com Player the Year award.


First Team All-MVC

Fred VanVleet, Wichita State
Tekele Cotton, Wichita State
Jake Odum, Indiana State
Cleanthony Early, Wichita St
Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa

Chris’ notes: I feel strongly that Tekele Cotton deserves to be on the 1st team, although voters who get overly concerned with statistics may disagree with me.  Obviously, there are several players not among this group of five who could claim the last spot or two on the first team.  I won’t argue with anyone who wants to put D.J. Balentine on this list after he averaged 22 ppg and I know that a case could also be made for Ron Baker as well.  In the end, I felt that the best interior player (Tuttle) merited inclusion after averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds per game.


Second Team All-MVC

Ron Baker, Wichita State
D.J. Balentine, Evansville
Desmar Jackson, SIU
Walt Lemon Jr, Bradley
Jamar Gulley, Missouri State
Anthony Beane, SIU

Chris’ notes: I would love to see a pickup game between the first and second teams – plenty of scorers among this group. Baker and Balentine are good enough to be first-teamers, so there was no debate listing them here. Jackson and Lemon Jr have had great individual careers and performed well enough this season to earn this recognition I ended up with six players on the team with the final 2 spots being a toss up between Beane, Gulley, Arop, and Doyle – I don’t believe you could go wrong with any of them. I chose Gulley and then gave Beane the nod for an extra spot because he played his best basketball in conference play, scoring in double figures in 15 of SIU’s last 16 league games and the Salukis outperformed expectations in large part because of Beane’s play.  Regardless of which players were selected, all had excellent years.


Honorable Mention All-MVC

Milton Doyle, Loyola
Daishon Knight, Illinois State
Egidijus Mockevicius, Evansville
Tyshon Pickett, Bradley
Christian Thomas, Loyola
Manny Arop, Indiana State
Richard Carter, Drake
Zach Lofton, Illinois State
Wes Washpun, Nothern Iowa

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