Just win Baby!
Al Davis said that famous phrase, and the Missouri Valley Conference is living it, going five for six in the postseason so far. The MVC has done well compared to the "Big 6" conferences, as they have only been out-performed by the ACC and Pac-10, with both conferences starting 6-1. The Big East (7-4), Big Ten (6-2), Big 12 (5-3), SEC (3-4) were not up to the MVC's success in the opening rounds of the four postseason tournaments.
Only Indiana State suffered the pain of defeat in their NCAA opener. Missouri State and Wichita State won in the NIT first round. Creighton and Evansville did the conference proud win convincing wins in the CBI and Northern Iowa showed they belonged in the post season with a convincing CIT win.
Starting Sunday, the remaining five teams return to the court as they work to extend their seasons and continue to shine compared to the majority of the "Big" conferences.
While the Sycamores fell to Syracuse 77-60, they have no reason to hang their head as they finish the year 20-14. The Sycamores will be a team to contend for the conference title next year as they will be returning their top three players next season (Dwayne Lathan, Carl Richards, and Jake Odum).
How many MVC teams will win this round?
Missouri State opened the NIT with a 89-76 win over Murray State. Jermaine Mallet stepped up and put up a career-high 23 points as the Bears controlled the game from the onset.
The Bears will travel to Miami (FL) (20-14, 6-10 ACC) for their second round game Monday night. The Hurricanes are led by guards Malcolm Grant (14.9 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Durand Scott (13.1 ppg, 3.1 apg).
The Bears and the Hurricanes have two common opponents this season. Both squads defeated Oral Roberts and Pepperdine this year by similar margins so this expects to be a even matchup.
Missouri State comes in as the hotter team, winning eight of their last ten while Miami is 5-5. With this being the case, the Bears will get a hard-fought win on their way to the third round.
In an in-state battle Wichita State dominated Nebraska 76-49. Guard David Kyles stepped up to put in 13 to lead a balanced Shocker attack.
Like Missouri State, the Shockers will travel to ACC territory as they will face Virginia Tech (22-11, 9-7 ACC) in the second round Sunday night. The Hokies, who believe they were snubbed for the NCAA tournament, are led by all-ACC guard Malcolm Delany (18.6 ppg, and 4.0 apg).
Will the MVC outperform the Big East, Big Ten, and Big 12 when all the tournaments are done?
The Shockers and Hokies have one common opponent this season. Wichita State beat Virginia by 12 while the Hokies fell twice to the Cavaliers. So one has to wonder if this can help the Shockers overcome to Blacksburg crowd.
Both teams come in 6-4 in the last ten games so neither team is streaking. The odds-makers have the Hokies by 4.5 points but that will not be enough as the MVC claims a second victory over the ACC.
The Bluejays opened the CBI with an 85-74 over San Jose State. Doug McDermott led the Bluejays with 26 points and 9 rebounds. Center Gregory Echenique and guard Jahenns Maniqat also stepped up for Creighton, scoring 18 and 17 respectively.
Creighton will be the lone MVC team at home this round of tournament play as they host Davidson (18-14, 10-8 Southern) Monday night. The Wildcats are led by J.P. Kuhlman (12.6 ppg, 3.0 apg) and Jake Cohen (11.9 apg, 6.3 rpg).
The teams have two common opponents this season. While Creighton beat Samford and lost a close game to Nebraska, Davidson defeated both teams.
The Wildcats have been hot the last half of the season, winning 10 of their last 12 games, while Creighton is only 6-4 in their last 10 games. Taking it all into account, it will be a challenge for the Bluejays to pull out the win, leaving the home crowd looking forward to next year.
Evansville started their post-season journey with a 77-70 win over Hofstra. Colt Ryan shot down the Pride as he put up 21 points. The bench played huge as Jordan Jahr, Clint Hopf, and Ned Cox combined for 33 points.
The Aces' quest for the CBI semi-finals see them headed west to play Boise State (21-12, 10-6 WAC). The Broncos, who finished second in the WAC, are led by La'Shard Anderson (15.3 ppg, 4.8 apg) and Robert Arnold (12.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg).
The Aces and the Broncos have one common opponent this year. Both teams played Drake, with Evansville splitting their two games and Boise State losing to the Bulldogs.
Northern Iowa opened the CIT with an 84-50 trashing of Rider. Guards Anthony James, Kwadzo Ahelegbe, and Johnny Moran split the workload for UNI, scoring 15, 14, and 14 points respectively. The Panthers looked like the team that had been in contention for the MVC crown until late in the season.
UNI was one of four teams receiving a bye into the quarterfinals, based on seeding following the first round. The Panthers will face the winner of today's game between Jacksonville (20-11) and SMU (18-14) in the quarterfinals. With the additional rest, the Panthers should be in good shape to advance to the CIT semi-finals.
The madness is in full swing. Let's see if the conference's success will continue.