I Thought This Was a Party. Let's Dance!
Ren McCormack got it right in Footloose, the conference tournaments are done and now it is time for the best teams in the country to dance. Six schools from the Missouri Valley Conference will be dancing in some manner as they take part in the four post-season tournaments.
As the tournaments kick off this week, it is time to take a quick look at the match-ups and see how long the MVC will be dancing.
The invites to the big dance were limited for the MVC this season as only conference tournament champion Indiana State was tabbed to take part in the ultimate basketball event. The Sycamores (20-13, 12-6 MVC) were given the 14 seed and will travel to Cleveland to face Syracuse (26-7, 12-6 Big East) in their opening game on Friday.
ISU and Syracuse have three common opponents this season. Indiana State went 3-1 against a combination of DePaul and Northern Iowa, and Notre Dame (losing to Notre Dame 81-72), while Syracused went 3-0 in games against the same group. The Orange are led forwards Kris Joseph (14.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Rick Jackson (13.0 ppg, 10.6 rpg) along with guard Scoop Jardine (5.8 apg).
While the match-up is not as bad as it seems at a distance, it will be a hard game for the Sycamores to win as they have a short stay in the dance.
National Invitational Tournament
The top two regular season squads, Missouri State and Wichita State were passed over for the big dance but were extended invites to the NIT.
In a battle of regular season champions who fell in their conference tournaments, Missouri State (25-8, 15-3 MVC) will host Murray State (23-8, 14-4 OVC) Tuesday in the first round of the NIT. The teams share a common opponent in Evansville. The Racers beat the Aces 72-47 as part of the BracketBusters while the Bears split their two contests with Evansville this season.
The challenge for the Racers is to stop MVC player of the year Kyle Weems. The Racers are led by guards Isaiah Canaan (11.7 ppg, 2.4 apg) and B.J. Jenkins (11.0 ppg, 3.8 apg).
The Bears have a lot to prove as they were shut out of the NCAA tournament. If they return to the form that won them the regular season crown, the home crowd will be celebrating a win and a trip to the second round of the NIT.
Wichita State (24-8, 14-4 MVC) gets a chance of redemption as they kick off the NIT against Nebraska (19-12, 7-9 Big 12). A common opponent is Creighton, who Nebraska beat 59-54, and Wichita State beat twice this season (68-54 & 67-65).
The Cornhuskers come into this matchup on losing four of their last five. The Cornhuskers, who only average 66.9 points per contest, are led by guard Lance Jeter (11.6 ppg, 4.6 apg) .
This match-up is favorable for the Shockers to pull out the win and make it to the second round, keeping their hopes of leading the MVC post-season charge alive.
College Basketball Invitational
Creighton (19-14, 10-8 MVC) gets a chance to extend their season as they will host San Jose State (17-15, 5-11 WAC) in the first round of the 16-team College Basketball Invitational. Both teams come into this match-up struggling, both losing three of their past five games.
MVC Freshman of the Year Doug McDermott is the man the Spartans have to stop if they have a chance. For the Bluejays to win, they are going to have stop explosive guard Adrian Oliver (24.3 ppg). Oliver, a transfer from Washington, has scored in double digits in all but one of the games he has played in this season and has seven games with 30 or more points.
This is going to be a tough game, but the crowd in Omaha is going to be enough to help the Bluejays take flight to the second round.
Evansville finished the regular season with a level record (15-15, 9-9 MVC) so it is surprising to see that the Aces were invited to a post-season tournament. Now they get a chance to continue the surprise as they open the CBI against Hostra (21-11, 14-4 CAA).
The Pride are led by guards Charles Jenkins (22.9 ppg, 4.8 apg) and Mike Moore (14.9 ppg, 2.2 apg). Hofstra was second in the CAA but fell to ODU in the conference tournament and missed out on the NCAA tournament.
While Evansville's record is not impressive, they match-up well against the Pride. The home court may be the difference as the Aces look to continue their season another game.
CollegeInsider.Com Postseason Tournament
Northern Iowa (19-13, 10-8 MVC) is the sixth team from the MVC to make the post-season and they will be hosting Rider (23-10, 13-5 MAAC) in the first round of the 24-team CollegeInsider.Com Postseason Tournament.
The two teams in this showdown are going in different directions. The Panthers have lost seven of their last eight after being in contention for the MVC regular season crowd. In contrast, the Broncs have eight of their last ten games.
The Broncs are led by guards Justin Robinson (15.3 ppg, 3.8 apg) and Novar Gadson (13.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg). It looks to be a tough match-up for the Panthers as they are outperformed statistically in points, rebounds, assists and shooting percentage by their opponents from the MAAC. With this being the case, it looks to be a sad night in Cedar Falls as UNI looks to fall out of the CIT early this year.
Let the madness begin. GO MVC!!!