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Missouri Valley Conference Power Rankings – Updated Jan. 28

Knee jerk reaction to tonight’s classic battle between the Aces and Salukis:

MVC Power Rankings

1) Wichita State 9-0 – Shockers have a two game lead as they make they turn and it doesn’t look like anyone is going to catch them.
2) Evansville 7-2 – DJ Balentine hit the shot of the year in Valley play with his three pointer tonight to send the Aces into OT vs SIU. Huge game this weekend vs Wichita State.
3) SIU 7-2- Salukis are 18-4! Holy smokes. Yes, I get that the out of conference schedule was weak, but cmon, 18-4? Wow.
4) Indiana State 6-3 - Sycs have three league losses (one to each of the teams above) but hammered the Aces in Terre Haute, so don’t sleep on Greg Lansing’s squad.
5) Illinois State 6-3 -  See above: Redbirds losses are all to teams ranked above them here. Ceiling is high for this group if Muller can get everyone on board.
6) Missouri State 4-5- The fact that a team is 8-13 overall and projected to avoid Thursday night in STL says more about the bottom of the league than I can add.
7) UNI 3-6 – Panthers were ranked 2nd in our last MVC update and then the floor dropped out from underneath them. Instead of worrying about NCAA at large chances, UNI fans are relegated to trying to avoid the indignity of the play in round at Arch Madness.
8 ) Loyola 2-7 – Loyola owns a win at UNI, but they are slotted behind them here simply due to the fact that the Ramblers lost to Bradley.
9) Drake 0-9 – Drake looks lost, but I just didn’t have the guts to move Bradley out of last place.
10) Bradley 1-8 – Remember when the Braves opened the season with a win over Ball State? Seems like a lifetime ago.

 

You can discuss this and more on the MVCfans.com Message Board

Missouri Valley Conference Power Rankings – Updated Dec. 30

For the first time in several years, the Valley doesn’t have an overwhelming favorite to win the league as conference season begins today. At different times over the past couple of weeks, I had the Aces, Shockers, and Panthers all atop these rankings only to have an untimely or surprising loss derail them one by one. I’ve yet to meet anyone confident enough to tell me with certainty where  the Valley is headed this year, but most seem to agree that circumstances could result in a one bid league. My gut tells me we have 2 teams dancing on Selection Sunday, but league officials might need a couple extra doses of Maalox for the heartburn as the calendar turns to March.

MVC Power Rankings

1) Wichita State 6-5 – The Shockers go back to the head of the class because a true inspection reveals that WSU has no “bad losses” as all five have been to potential NCAA teams including several played without Fred VanVleet. The Shockers convincing win over Utah (who subsequently won at Duke) is probably the truest indication that the Shockers deserve to be here.
2) Northern Iowa 8-5 – I suspect that the Panthers will be one of the more difficult teams for the Selection Committee to assess in March. Is there a school with a better pair of wins than UNC and Iowa State? Maybe not, but UNI’s five losses have all been to teams unlikely to make the NCAA tournament and that could be difficult to overcome without an outstanding record in league play.
3) Evansville 11-2- Aces would have been slotted atop this poll if they hadn’t laid an egg at Arkansas and had instead entered conference play with just one loss to Top 10 Providence. Instead, Evansville put themselves in a bad situation without a single non-conference win over a team likely to make the NCAA tournament (barring an automatic bid).
4) Southern Illinois 11-2 - After the top 3, things get awfully muddled. I acknowledge their schedule had plenty of 200+ RPI opponents, but SIU beat Kent State and Oakland which are better wins than either of the next two schools have that were considered for this spot. We’ll give Barry Hinson the benefit of the doubt and put the Salukis fourth… for now. Huge game vs Loyola tonight.
5) Loyola 7-5 -  Frankly, I expected more out of the Ramblers this year and it’s not a great sign when an upper half MVC team has an RPI of 217 entering league play. Loyola opens their MVC schedule with games against SIU, IndSt, IllSt, Missouri St, and Bradley. To retain this spot, Ramblers need to win at least 3 of those games.
6) Illinois State 6-7 – If Loyola has been disappointing, Illinois State’s performance thus far has been head scratching. Redbirds have zero quality wins – zero. Seriously, check for yourself (best win is either 67-66 over 5-5 Morehead St or 63-61 over 4-6 Murray State). Yikes. If we needed to sum up ISU in one word – underachieving.
7) Indiana State 6-6 – Sycamores take a three games winning streak into league play including a road win at SLU. I always felt Greg Lansing was a very good coach and he’ll need to do one of his best jobs to finish above .500 this year.
8 ) Drake 5-7 – I almost slotted the Bulldogs one spot higher because their recent losses to DePaul, Nevada and Iowa were all close and competitive. That’s how bad things have gotten at the bottom of the MVC.
9) Missouri State 4-8 – I’m not quite sure how you go into Stillwater and beat Oklahoma State, follow that up with a dominant win over Oral Roberts and then lose at home to previously winless SEMO.
10) Bradley 2-11 – If there was ever a season that the history books and media guides should omit from existence, the Braves’ season in 2015-16 would meet all the criteria. Somewhere, Kurt Kanaskie has his fingers crossed.

 

You can discuss this and more on the MVCfans.com Message Board

Missouri Valley Conference Power Rankings – Updated Dec. 7

Now that we are a month into the season I think we’ve seen enough games to adequately assess the Valley and update our power rankings.  There is a pretty dramatic drop off after the Top 6 and as of yet there isn’t much to say about the bottom of the league.

MVC Power Rankings

1) Evansville 7-1 – Aces at-large chances don’t have much room for error with a soft non-con schedule, but they have secured decent wins over Belmont and Murray State and their only loss was to Top 20 Providence. If they can win at Arkansas tomorrow and take a 12-1 record into MVC play, they’ll be in the NCAA discussion.
2) Wichita State 3-4 – Is it crazy to put WSU here with a losing record? With Fred VanVleet back on the court, the Shockers handled SLU easily. Hard to argue putting them any lower and I’m sure they would still be the bettors favorite to win the Valley.
3) UNI 5-2- Panthers have only one win against a team with a winning record, but that was over #1 ranked North Carolina. A huge game looms with Top 10 Iowa State next weekend in Des Moines.
4) Southern Illinois 8-1 - No question the surprise of the early season has been Barry Hinson’s Salukis. But can they sustain this level of success once the Valley season starts? Probably not, but escaping Thursday night at Arch Madness would be progress.
5) Loyola 5-3 -  Ramblers followed up a bad loss to sub-200 RPI UNC-Asheville with a victory over former MVC member Creighton. Milton Doyle has looked like an All-Valley performer so far.
6) Illinois State 3-6 – Redbirds have been disappointing, but they have also showed young potential.  Playing Kentucky even for a half and leading late in the game at Maryland should give ISU fans hope.
7) Indiana State 3-4
8 ) Drake 4-4
9) Missouri State 2-5
10) Bradley 1-8

 

You can discuss this and more on the MVCfans.com Message Board

My 2015-16 preseason All-MVC teams and individual award selections

Missouri Valley Conference Media Day will be held this morning so it is time to make my fearless predictions. I had a little more trouble making some of the second team and honorable mention selections this year and I ended up giving my final spot to one guy no one else will probably recognize, but every team wishes they had.

Once again, I expect Wichita State to be a unanimous favorite to win the league and (once again) both Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker will vie for Larry Bird Player of the Year honors. I picked Baker last year and I will stick with it in ’15-’16. My predictions for all-MVC teams and individual honors are below.

 

First Team All Missouri Valley Conference
Ron Baker, Wichita State – Preseason MVC Player of the Year
Fred VanVleet, Wichita State
DJ Balentine, Evansville
Egidijus Mockevicius, Evansville
Milton Doyle, Loyola

 

Second Team All-Missouri Valley Conference
Paul Jesperson, UNI
Devaughn Akoon-Purcell, Illinois State
Anton Grady, Wichita State
Wes Washpun, UNI
Anthony Beane Jr, SIU

 

Honorable Mention All-Missouri Valley Conference

Devonte Brown, Indiana State
Brenton Scott, Indiana State
Montel James, Loyola
Reed Timmer, Drake
Evan Wessel, Wichita State

 

Player of the Year – Ron Baker, Wichita State
Newcomer of the Year – Anton Grady, Wichita State
Freshman of the Year – Joel Okafor, Bradley

 

You can discuss this and more on the MVCfans.com basketball discussion board.

No Shocker: MVCfans.com voters select Wichita State as likely regular season champ

 

For the third consecutive year, the users at MVCfans.com have chosen the Wichita State Shockers as the likely regular season champion of the Missouri Valley Conference.  The Evansville Purple Aces were predicted by our voters to finish second.

Official MVCfans.com – Predictions to date:

10th Place – Bradley

9th Place – Missouri State

8th Place – Southern Illinois

7th Place – Drake

6th Place – Indiana State

5th Place – Loyola

4th Place – Illinois State

3rd Place – Northern Iowa

2nd Place – Evansville

1st Place – Wichita State

Message board and poll results: MVCfans.com 2015-16 men’s basketball discussion

Listen: Inside The Valley Podcast – Sep. 21, 2015

Derrick Docket, MVC Associate Commissioner for New Media & Technology, visits with MVC television analyst Mark Adams and more.

Listen: Inside The Valley Podcast – Sept. 14, 2015

Listen to Derrick Docket, MVC Associate Commissioner for New Media & Technology, discuss the Valley’s MTE schedule and more.

ESPN and MVC Announce 10 year extension through 2023-24

Great news today from the MVC office:

ESPN and the Missouri Valley Conference have announced a 10-year extension to their current media rights agreement that will provide increased coverage of conference events across ESPN platforms through the 2023-24 academic year.

As part of the deal – which continues a business relationship that began in 1986 – ESPN, the Missouri Valley Conference and its 10 member institutions will work jointly to develop inhouse production capabilities at each campus that will provide significant national coverage for multiple sports on ESPN3 and hands-on educational opportunities for students. As a result, ESPN3 will showcase a minimum of 820 events a year (a minimum of 70 men’s basketball) in the final six years of the agreement.

Full report: MVC-sports.com

You can discuss this and more on the MVCfans.com Message Board

MVCfans.com 2015 Player of the Year and All-MVC teams

Yesterday, 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 honored 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

Seth Tuttle – Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa senior Seth Tuttle is our choice for Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year based on an outstanding 2014-15 campaign in which he led the Panthers in scoring, rebounds, and assists while elevating UNI into the national polls an anticipated high NCAA seed.  Tuttle averaged 15.6 ppg for the season, but increased that to 16.7 in league play to lead Valley scorers.  He shot 63% from the floor and 44.7% from three point range, while also collecting 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

Congratulations Seth Tuttle on being selected as the winner of the MVCfans.com Player the Year award.

 

First Team All-MVC

Seth Tuttle – Northern Iowa
Fred VanVleet, Wichita State
Ron Baker – Wichita State
Tekele Cotton, Wichita State
Egidijus Mockevicius, Evansville

Chris’ notes: Putting three Shockers on the first team wasn’t a hard decision here and frankly, adding a fourth was considered.  Tuttle, VanVleet, Baker, and Cotton were absolute slam dunks on my list.  The fifth spot came down to Mockevicius, Darius Carter, and DJ Balentine.  Ultimately, I chose Mockevicius based in large part on his 9 double-doubles in league play (in just 16 games).

 

Second Team All-MVC

Darius Carter, Wichita State
D.J. Balentine, Evansville
Wes Washpun, UNI
Devonte Brown, Indiana State
Daishon Knight, Illinois State

Chris’ notes: It was very difficult to distinguish between the 2nd team and honorable mention honorees, but I did my best to acknowledge those I felt were most worthy by placing them on this team.

 

Honorable Mention All-MVC

Anthony Beane, SIU
Daishon Knight, Illinois State
Gary Ricks Jr, Drake
Christian Thomas, Loyola
Khristian Smith, Indiana State
Reggie Lynch, Illinois State
Milton Doyle, Loyola
Deon Mitchell, Northern Iowa
DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, Illinois State

 

You can discuss this and more on the MVCfans.com message board:
MVCfans.com basketball discussion

MVCfans.com 2015 Missouri Valley Conference Awards and Honors – Part 1

After what was another tremendous Missouri Valley Conference basketball season, today we begin by honoring the best of the past year.  This is the first of two parts of our 2014-15 awards as we recognize a coach and several players for their accomplishments this season.

Below are our selections for Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year.

Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year:

Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa
Others considered: Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

In a year where two head coaches were absolutely deserving of the honor, Ben Jacobson of Northern Iowa is our selection for MVC Coach of the Year.  Jacobson led a UNI team that was without a single vote in the preseason poll into the AP Top 10.  The Panthers were only a New Year’s Eve three point loss (in the league’s first game) away from claiming a share of the MVC regular season title, finishing 16-2 in the MVC and 27-3 overall.   Congrats to Coach Ben Jacobson – our 2015 MVCfans.com Coach of the Year.

 

Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year:
Brenton Scott, Indiana State
Others considered: Reed Timmer, Drake; Josh Cunningham, Bradley

In another close decision, Brenton Scott of Indiana State is our choice for MVC Freshman of the Year.  The Sycamore’s redshirt frosh averaged 11.7 ppg in league play while shooting 45% from three point range.

 

Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Year:
DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, llinois State
Others considered: Tramique Sutherland, Bradley; Paul Jesperson, UNI

Despite missing nearly a month of the season (and the first 3 MVC conference games) Akoon-Purcell was an easy selection as Newcomer of the Year.  The junior transfer played his best basketball at the end of the season, scoring in double figures for the Redbirds in six of the final seven games.  He finished the year averaging 13.0 ppg and 5.7 rebounds per game.

 

Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year:
Tekele Cotton, Wichita State
Others Considered: none

In my opinion, Cotton will go down in MVC lore as one of the great defenders in league history. A relentless defender capable of containing virtually all types of scoring threats – inside and out -  we honor Tekele Cotton for the second consecutive year as our Missouri Valley Conference defensive player of the year.

 

I will post our All-MVC teams and Player of the Year Honorees tomorrow.