MVC games – ESPN’s BracketBusters weekend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s that time of year again – ESPN’s 10th annual Sears BracketBusters weekend. Whether you love it or hate it, the Valley will have all ten league teams participating over the next couple of days. Here is the schedule of games with applicable television coverage. We will try to get game previews posted soon.

February 17:

Northern Iowa @ Virginia Commonwealth, 6 PM CT (ESPN2)

February 18:

Wichita State @ Davidson, 11 AM CT (ESPN or ESPN2)
Southern Illinois @ Ball State, 1 PM CT
Indiana State at Butler, 1 PM CT
Drake @ New Mexico State, 2 PM CT (ESPNU)
Old Dominion @ Missouri State, 4 PM CT (ESPNU)
Oakland @ Illinois State, 4 PM CT
Loyola-Chicago @ Bradley, 7 PM CT
Long Beach State @ Creighton, 9 PM CT (ESPN2)
Western Illinois @ Evansville, TBD

Updated MVC standings and seeding probabilities – Feb 15

Congrats to Wichita State for clinching at least a share of the regular season Missouri Valley Conference championship.  Following the games tonight, here are the updated standings and current seedings for Arch Madness.

With 10 conference games remaining, there are 1,024 different outcomes for the remainder of the conference season. The below charts break down the possible finishes. The top chart is the specific number of occurrences, and the bottom chart is the percentage that calculates to. These charts take into account the head-to-head tiebreaker (and mini round-robin for a 3+ way tie), and assume that if the mini round-robin does not break the tie, it goes straight to the out of conference strength of schedule tiebreaker. Currently that order is what I have from ESPN (WSU 29, UNI 30, BU 56, MSU 78, EU 181, CU 188, DU 235, ISU-Red 298, ISU-Blue 300, SIU 316).

For those of you who would like to see a more realistic liklihood of where teams may be seeded – this is for you. Below you will see the remaining 10 conference games with weighted odds attached to them (from realtimerpi.com). These odds are then used to calculate the below seeding probabilities.

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Preview of MVC games – Wednesday Feb 15

There are a couple of Valley games tonight with high intrigue. The matchup between the Shockers and Bears offers WSU a chance to celebrate a league title on their home floor. The Aces-Panthers game is a chance for one team to inch further away from a Thursday night date in St. Louis.

Missouri State (+11.5) at Wichita State
After the hiccup in Des Moines, Wichita State has not only looked like the best Valley team, but one of the better teams in America. It’s a big number tonight as the Bears enter the Roundhouse, but I suspect Kyle Weems will be prepared to play and Missouri State keeps it close. I’ll take WSU to get a close win, but MSU to beat the spread.

Northern Iowa (+1) at Evansville
This is a critical game to help stave off a Thursday night appearance for both teams, but it probably means more to Evansville since they close the season against Missouri St and Creighton. For comparison, UNI has Bradley & SIU remaining. After a putrid second half against Drake, I’ll take Colt and Co. to get a much needed win tonight at home.

 

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Preview – Drake (-2) at Bradley

On paper, this looks like quite a mismatch, even though only a few places in the standings separate the two teams. Drake still has a lot to play for between Arch Madness seeding and a possible postseason berth in a tournament like the CBI, while Bradley is mired in last place. Still, the Braves should be no pushover for the Bulldogs.

Two factors make this a potentially interesting game: Drake’s road struggles and subpar record the second time through the Valley schedule under Phelps. Under Phelps, Drake is 12-32 on the road, which means that even against the dregs of the league, this game will probably be competitive, especially since the same fixture in at the Knapp Center wasn’t a blowout either. Couple this with the fact that Phelps is 9-25 in Valley return games, and there could be an upset brewing in Peoria that would seriously derail the Bulldogs’ hopes of avoiding Thursday night in St. Louis.

The outcome of the game is likely to hinge on which Bulldogs team that Phelps sends out Wednesday night. If he sends out a team with a gameplan intent on playing in the halfcourt and trying to grind it out, he’s playing right into Geno Ford’s hands. If he connects the dots from the decisive 24-4 run against Evansville, he’ll continue to let the players open things up and push the tempo, resulting in some easy layups and open shots from 3 that the Bulldogs were able to convert with ease against the Aces.

My prediction:
Drake wins in a cagey game with a big game from Kurt Alexander canceling out Taylor Brown having a big night. Drake 58, Bradley 51.

Updated Arch Madness Seed Probabilities – Feb 14

With 13 conference games remaining, there are 8,192 different outcomes for the remainder of the conference season. The below charts break down the possible finishes. The top chart is the specific number of occurrences, and the bottom chart is the percentage that calculates to. These charts take into account the head-to-head tiebreaker (and mini round-robin for a 3+ way tie), and assume that if the mini round-robin does not break the tie, it goes straight to the out of conference strength of schedule tiebreaker. Currently that order is what I have from ESPN (WSU 27, UNI 35, BU 62, MSU 78, CU 190, EU 191, DU 227, ISU-Red 296, ISU-Blue 298, SIU 321).

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Arch Madness Seating Chart with Graphic

Ask and you shall receive – here is the seating chart for Arch Madness.

 

Arch Madness Seeding Probabilities

Each team in the Missouri Valley Conference has only 3 games remaining.  Thanks to Hacksaw, we are now all up to date on the possible seed scenarios for each team.  It looks like there will be quite a battle to avoid 7th place and the play-in game on Thursday night in St. Louis.

With 15 conference games remaining, there are 32,768 different outcomes for the remainder of the conference season. The below charts break down the possible finishes. The top chart is the specific number of occurrences, and the bottom chart is the percentage that calculates to. These charts take into account the head-to-head tiebreaker (and mini round-robin for a 3+ way tie), and assume that if the mini round-robin does not break the tie, it goes straight to the out of conference strength of schedule tiebreaker. Currently that order is what I have from ESPN (WSU 25, UNI 29, BU 67, MSU 80, CU 182, EU 188, DU 222, ISU-Red 293, ISU-Blue 299, SIU 320).

 

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Preview of MVC games Sunday, Feb 12

Just two games on the Valley schedule today.

Bradley (+14.5) at Missouri State
The Braves won their second conference game of the season on Wednesday, but the trip to Springfield wouldn’t appear to be the right recipe for a winning streak. Thanks to Illinois State’s loss yesterday, the Bears can move into sole possession of third place in the Valley standings with a win. It’s a big number, but I’d guess MSU rolls in this one.

Evansville (-1) at Drake
After their upset of Creighton on Tuesday, a win today by the Aces moves them comfortably (for now) away from the play in games in St. Louis. Drake has been scuffling in the absence of Ben Simons and it’s unclear when (or if) he might return. The correct play here is to give the single point and take Evansville, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach Phelps can conjure a big game from Rayvonte Rice and the Bulldogs pull an upset.

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Wichita State hammers Creighton 89-68

In a game that many expected to be a showdown between Valley Player of the Year Candidates, Garrett Stutz of Wichita State and Doug McDermott of Creighton were relative non-factors.  Instead, it was the play of Shockers’ Joe Ragland (22 points) and Ben Smith (24 points) that pushed Wichita State within a win of at least a share of the Missouri Valley Conference regular season championship.

After Creighton opened up a quick 8-4 lead, Wichita State scored the next 11 points and never trailed again. Stutz was saddled with early foul trouble and only played 13 minutes, scoring 8 points on 3 of 6 shooting. Interestingly, his absence allowed the Shockers to open up their offense and attack the Bluejays off the dribble, leading to numerous easy baskets and open three pointers. Wichita State shot 58% from the field and made 8 of 16 three point attempts. The Shockers also outrebounded the Bluejays 36-21.

Creighton was led by Gregory Echenique’s 16 points and 5 rebounds.

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Preview of MVC games Saturday, Feb 11

Three games on the schedule for today including the big one between Wichita State and Creighton. It’s possible that the regular season league title could be all buy sewn up at the end of the day or we could have a battle to the final weekend of the season.

 

Southern Illinois (+8) at Indiana State
Neither the Salukis or Sycamores had been able to string together many consecutive wins in Valley play. At 5-9 in league play, both teams are in danger of playing on Thursday night in St. Louis and I’d argue that you can almost certainly write the loser of this game into one of those 4 slots. It’s a tough one to pick, but I’ll take SIU to beat the spread, but lose the game.

Illinois State (+6.5) at Northern Iowa
The Panthers desperately want this game to give themselves a shot to climb into the upper half of the league race. Plus, UNI is still smarting from the drubbing in Wichita on Wednesday. Illinois State is playing with house money, sitting in third and owning the tie-breaker over Missouri State for the moment. I’ll take desperation over satisfaction in this one and go with the Panthers to cover.

Wichita State (+1) at Creighton

It seems as though the season has been building to this moment for these teams and the energy is palpable. Creighton won in Wichita, but the Shockers can all but claim the league title with a win in Omaha today against the suddenly struggling Bluejays. The pundits will tell you that this game is going to be won on the interior between Echenique, Stutz, McDermott and Hall. I think otherwise. My belief is that whichever team makes more three pointers wins this one. In the first meeting, the Shockers led early and then went ice cold from the perimeter allowing Creighton to come back. If WSU can hit more 3′s than Creighton, the Shox win. I’ll take WSU in a slugfest 70-68. Here’s a look back at a couple of classics in the series: Wichita St – Creighton moments

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