Decided to take a trip into the (not so) way back machine – remember Matt Braeuer and Booker Woodfox? Here’s hoping that tonight’s game between the Bluejays and Shockers can leave us with equally memorable plays. Click the bottom right hand corner of the video for full screen.
First of all, Happy New Year’s to everyone. We know there will be fans of at least three Valley teams who have reason to celebrate after today’s games… fans of the other three will have a reason to drink their sorrows away. Either way – everyone is a winner!
Bradley (+10.5) at Indiana State
Both teams are coming off of disappointing MVC openers. The Braves lost in historic fashion while the Sycamores never showed up in Des Moines. In Indiana State’s nine victories, the largest margins of victory have been 12, 11, 11, and 15 – the two largest being against Louisiana-Monroe. I think the Sycs win, but I’ll take the Braves plus the points.
Drake (+9) at Missouri State
Quite the opposite from the game above as both the Bulldogs and Bears are on relative highs after opening night MVC wins. Drake is 0-2 in true road games this year with losses by 44 to Boise State and 14 to Iowa. I’ll take Missouri State and give the points.
link to Drake – Missouri St online feed
Creighton (+7) at Wichita State
The luster of this game was tarnished with Creighton’s opening night loss to Missouri State, but that may have only increased the game’s importance. The preseason favorite Bluejays hope to avoid an 0-2 start – not since Illinois State in 1992-93 has an MVC team has won the regular season conference title after losing their first two games. Wichita State has won eight straight games including a thumping of then #20 UNLV. The Shockers won’t be intimidated by Creighton’s #19 national ranking and would love nothing more than to send the Jays back to Omaha with another loss. I’ll take the Shockers to win and cover.
You can discuss this and more on the MVCfans.com message board:
MVCfans.com basketball discussion
You’ve seen your team play one conference game and of course it’s too early to make any determinations of anything. So let me do it for you. Here are my premature ramblings on the Valley one game into league play.
1) The Missouri Valley Conference is not going to be a 4 bid league. I admit it – I jumped the gun on this one as bad as anyone. As I sat and watched Indiana State win at Vanderbilt, it appeared that the stars had aligned and the Valley was going to once again be a multi-multi bid league in March. Creighton, Wichita State, Northern Iowa and Indiana State all looked the part (at least for a bit). Since then, UNI got hammered by Ohio and lost to Illinois State, Indiana State got beat up at Drake, and Creighton lost at home to overlooked Missouri State. It’s probably a two bid league fellas. Best case would be if Creighton can recover and Wichita State joins with them to form a solid 1-2 (or 2-1) punch with strong at large profiles in their back pockets come March. I don’t think any other Valley team will have a strong enough at large profile. If a team other than CU or WSU wins in St. Louis, maybe the Valley gets three NCAA bids.
2) Kyle Weems is an all-league performer. I thought I’d seen enough in the non-conference to gauge the impact that trying to replace 4 seniors had on Weems – so much, in fact, that I relegated him to Honorable Mention All-MVC earlier this week. After one half of MVC play and 6 points, nothing had changed my opinion. Well, 25 second half points later and a career high against a nationally ranked team on the road has changed my position. Will he repeat as the league’s Player of the Year? I wouldn’t bet on it, but I wouldn’t bet against it either.
3) Wichita State is the best team in the Valley. Gregg Marshall and Co. have to be kicking themselves for the lost opportunities in Puerto Rico against Alabama and Temple – games the Shockers could have won. Instead, the Shockers have been playing and winning under the national radar despite the hammer job they did on UNLV at Koch. Seeing them lay the worst home defeat on Bradley in school history should serve as a red alert for the rest of the Valley.
4) The middle to lower teams in the Valley (read: Illinois State and Drake) are going to cause problems for the MVC favorites. Drake beat Indiana State and Illinois State nipped UNI already – how many additional conference wins can they muster? It looks to me like they’ll get enough to make every team sweat out just about every Valley game this year…. except those against Southern Illinois.
5) Southern Illinois is awful. I don’t want to kick the proverbial dawg while it’s down, but Southern Illinois is not a good basketball team. In fact, they are downright awful. Or at least that’s how they looked in their MVC opener last night against Evansville. The Salukis looked disinterested and played without any intensity or heart. While I feel confident that they won’t go winless in the Valley, it’s hard to imagine them winning more than 3-4 games. If you want to bet on anything, assume SIU will be the 10 seed playing on Thursday night in St. Louis.
You can discuss this and more on the MVCfans.com message board:
MVC Chris’ 5 ramblings discussion thread
Two conference games scheduled for tonight. After last night, I’m not sure if it’s wise for anyone to try and predict what will happen in the Valley this year.
Southern Illinois (+6) at Evansville
The Salukis enter the contest with one of the lowest RPIs in all of college basketball, but close observation would indicate that their best ball was played in Hawaii over the holiday break, albeit a 0-3 trip to the islands. The Aces have been a mystery and I’m not sure what to expect from UE tonight. I wouldn’t touch this game with a ten foot pole, but would go with Evansville if I had to simply because they are at home.
Northern Iowa (-1.5) at Illinois State
Which UNI team shows up? The one that was impressive in starting 10-1 against a strong schedule or the one that got decimated at home by Ohio? The Redbirds, on the other hand, have an 8-3 record but have played one of the softer schedules in all of America. I’ll go with Illinois state because they are at home, but I’m not in love with the pick.
Kyle Weems isn’t ready to concede Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year honors to Doug McDermott just yet. Weems scored a career high 31 points in leading the 8-5 Bears to a 77-65 road upset victory over #19 Creighton on Wednesday night. Weems scored 25 points after halftime and Anthony Downing added 26 points for Paul Lusk’s MSU team.
Missouri State will take a 1-0 conference mark home to Springfield where games against Drake and Illinois State await. Creighton travels to Wichita for a tilt with the Shockers on Saturday.
Nice writeup on MSU’s Kyle Weems by Jeff Goodman of CBSSports: Missouri State’s Weems shows loyalty paying off
You can discuss this and more on the MVCfans.com message board: Missouri State upsets Creighton – MVC basketball discussion thread
Kumbaya time is officially over and the Valley acquitted itself very nicely in non-conference play. While nothing is certain, the MVC has positioned itself nicely for multiple bids in the NCAA tournament. Every team still has the chance to dance and the regular season begins tonight with three Valley games.
Missouri St (+10) at Creighton
The Bears were 3-0 versus the Bluejays last season. Will Kyle Weems play as well against Doug McDermott as he did last year in shutting down this year’s favorite for MVC POY? Creighton is playing at a high level and should win this one. Creigthton 77-65.
Wichita State (-10) at Bradley
We’ve seen some nice things from Bradley recently, but have they improved enough to upset the Shockers? Not likely according to the pundits and it’s hard to disagree. Shockers win 74-62.
Indiana St (-1.5) at Drake
Probably the game of the night and a mighty important one for the Sycamores. Any road win in the Valley is hard to come by, so Greg Lansing would love to start 1-0. A win by the Bulldogs might give them the shot in the arm they need to move into the upper half of the league. I’m taking Indiana State in this one, 66-60.
You can discuss this and more on the MVCfans.com message board: MVC basketball discussion thread
Now that we have reached the end of the out of conference season (excluding Bracket Busters), I thought I would share my MVC honorees and all league teams from the games played thus far. This is not a prediction of what will happen in the second half or who I think will win the actual awards in March… it is simply a recognition of what has happened thus far. It is my opinion only.
Player of the Half-Year – Doug McDermott (Creighton). Tied for the nation’s lead in scoring and shooting at a remarkable clip (63% FG, 57% 3-pt).
First team -
Joe Ragland – Wichita St
Jake Odum – Indiana St
Antoine Young – Creighton
Jackie Carmichael – Illinois St
Second team -
Rayvonte Rice – Drake
Caleb Patterson – Missouri St
Taylor Brown – Bradley
Mamadou Seck – SIU
Jake Koch – UNI
Honorable Mention -
Anthony James – UNI
Kyle Weems – Missouri St
Colt Ryan – Evansville
Walt Lemon Jr – Bradley
Toure Murry – Wichita St
Ben Simons – Drake
Grant Gibbs – Creighton
Jordan Prosser – Bradley
Freshman of the Half-Year – Deon Mitchell, Northern Iowa. No small task replacing Kwadzo Ahelegbe, but Mitchell has done a great job. Also considered: Nic Moore, Seth Tuttle
Newcomer of the Half-Year – Grant Gibbs, Creighton. Leads the MVC in assist to turnover ratio (10 and 12 assists in previous 2 games). Also considered: Carl Hall, Michael Bizoukas
Coach of the Half-Year – Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa. Many considered this a rebuilding year for the Panthers, but Jacobson has UNI positioned well for conference after a surprising first half.
You can discuss this and more on the MVCfans.com message board: MVC Awards and Honorees discussion thread
Thanks to everyone for their support this year. We hope that you have a Merry Christmas!
In the Final round of the Las Vegas Classic, the Missouri State Bears took their first lead of the game against St. Mary’s when Kyle Weems made a three pointer with 18:28 to play in the second half. The Gaels then scored nine consecutive points and the game was never again within six points. With the loss, Missouri State drops to 7-5.
Caleb Patterson led the Bears in scoring with 18 point. Kyle Weems added 11 points and 7 rebounds.
Coming off a heartbreaking loss to West Virginia, Missouri State faces St. Mary’s in the final round of the Las Vegas Classic tonight at 10:30 Central on ESPN3. The Bears are a 5.5 point underdog to the Gaels, who were defeated yesterday by Baylor.
You can discuss this and more on the MVCfans.com message board: Missouri St vs St. Mary’s discussion thread