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2006 MVC CHAMPIONSHIP: ARCH MADNESS

NCAA Tournament | Missouri Valley Info | Championship Week

By Shawn Siegel

shawn@collegehoops.net

 

Live From The Missouri Valley Conference Championship

 

If you can't understand the excitement building around this year's MVC Tournament in Saint Louis, then you're probably not a college basketball fan.  We're talking about six teams with a shot at making the NCAA Tournament, and a possibility for as many as four at-large bids.  We're talking about #'s 20, 25, 31, 32, 42, and 43 in the RPI.  Those are ACC & Big East numbers.  In fact, we're talking a conference that will (and I mean will and not just should) get more bids than the Pac-10 and the SEC.  We're talking about a Sunday afternoon final on CBS, network television, home of the big boys.  Most importantly, we're talking about fun. Lots of fun.

 

Saturday, March 4th - 3:53 PM - SIU Is the MVC Champion

 

The predictions started within minutes after Southern Illinois pulled away with a 59-46 victory over Bradley in the 2006 MVC Championship.  Writers, cameramen, and even the ushers got into the act.  Just who will represent  the MVC in this year's NCAA Tournament?  If you think you know, you're just kidding yourself.

 

What we do know is that SIU proved too much to handle and will be in the Dance for the 5th year in a row.  Yes, Randal Falker came up huge in the 2nd half, and Matt Shaw stepped up as well, but as much credit, if not more has to go to SIU head coach Chris Lowery.  The first major adjustment came about 10-12 minutes into the game when the Salukis decided that their entire focus would be stopping O'Bryant from scoring. The 2nd adjustment came at half-time, when Lowery decided that the best way to beat Bradley was to beat them at their own game, feeding it down low to Randall Falker and letting him attack O'Bryant in the post. 

 

Falker came through with a monster 17 point, 16 rebound effort, cleary earning himself man of the match honors.  His frontcourt teammate Shaw also added 14 (12 in the 2nd half) and 8 boards. 

 

This focus on stopping the big men on one end and attacking the big men on the other led to a huge 20-2 run in flanking half-time, in which the Braves went scoreless for about 9:30.  College basketball games are only 40 minutes and if you can't score for 10 of that, you're not doing something right.

 

Bradley's starting backcourt certainly wasn't doing something right.  The starting duo of Daniel Ruffin and JJ Tauai combined to play 40 minutes, score 2 points, and hand out 1 lone assist. 

 

The Braves most hopeful moment in the 2nd half came on a pair of back to back threes from senior Tony Bennett.  These threes came right after the 3:25 mark when the game was halted to a potentially serious injury to an SIU cheerleader.  Kristi Yamaoka, the young woman who was injured, hit the floor with a huge thud when no one caught her flying out of the air.  The Arena was silent for a good three minutes as she was wheeled off.  The crowds worst fears were lightened as she cheered her away off the floor in the gurney.

 

Bennett's threes cut SIU's lead in half, from 44-32 to 44-38.  However, on the ensuing two possessions, both Sommerville and Bennett heaved up ill-advised threes basically ending the Braves chances.   The ill-advised threes were more the story of the game than Bennett's makes.  Ruffin, the sophomore point guard, was clearly ruffled at times, and was pulled from the game early in the 2nd half with his head held low.  The Braves just did not have the soothing controlling guard play that they desperately needed with SIU's focus so heavily on O'Bryant.

 

While it will be hard for Bradley to repeat this year's success losing Sommerville, Bennett, and scoring wing-forward Lawrence Wright to injury, SIU will only be better.  Barring some kind of major injury, you can almost jot down SIU into next year's field of 65.  Today's starting lineup featured a pair of juniors, a pair of sophomores, and a freshman point guard. 

 

Saturday, March 4th - 2:32 PM

 

Even the best defensive team needs at least one kid who can score.  Luckily the Salukis have Jamaal Tatum. When the Salukis offense hit its low point, down 11-4 with back to back air balls in the closing seconds of the shot clock, Tatum ran off a quick 8 points to bring them back to 13-12.  The Braves again appeared to be pulling away due to the inside dominance of Patrick O’Bryant, but the Braves offense stalled after getting up 22-16 at the 5:21 mark.  The Salukis slowly worked their way back to within one, 24-23, thanks in large part to Tatum’s 10 points.

 

O’Bryant impressed the CBS announcing crew with a variety of dunks and put backs, going 6 of 7 for 13 points.  Even the mostly (2/3rds) pro SIU crowd couldn’t help but ooh and ahh at a monster put back dunk. (Monster for O’Bryant is jumping 3 inches off the ground..)  Outside of O’Bryant and Sommerville (7 pts), the Braves got little help on offense. Senior Tony Bennett has been spending most of his energy chasing around the dangerous Tatum.

 

Early on, it looked like the loss of injured point guard Bryan Mullins would devastate the Salukis offense.  Mullins, who hurt his angle last night, started, but was forced to sit after a few hobbled minutes early on.  This forced little-used 5th senior guard Austin Brooks to get rare extended minutes.

 

Neither team had any success shooting the ball, and the Salukis were able to stay in the game once they did a better job doubling O’Bryant in the post.  Outside of his 6 for 7, the rest of the team was 3 of 14 (21%).  With so much defensive pressure being put on O’Bryant, there’s bound to be someone open for Bradley and its just a matter of someone (maybe Sommerville) stepping up and hitting some shots.

 

Saturday, March 4th - 11:12 PM - Championship Preview

 

League execs were very happy that SIU won yesterday, ensuring another great crowd for tomorrow's MVC Championship game.  Today's semifinal session drew an extremely impressive 17,772 fans, the largest ever session in MVC Tournament history.  With both teams' fans needing only to travel across the Mississippi tomorrow from Illinois, the Savvis Center will hopefully be rocking for the CBS cameras.

 

The national audience will get a chance to look at two extremely hungry teams.  Bradley is looking to make its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 10 years, while SIU has been a Tourney stalwart for the past 4 years.  Despite these two teams polar success in recent years, it is SIU who probably has more on the line in this one.  The Braves come in having won 11 of 13, and are certainly deserving of an at-large bid.  SIU on the other hand lost 5 of 8 heading into Saint Louis, and may very well need a win to offset a pair of bad early season losses to Monmouth and Alaska-Anchorage.

 

The biggest difference for the Salukis since those early losses was that freshman point guard Bryan Mullins really took control of the team after the Alaska trip.  Mullins hurt his ankle late in yesterday's overtime win, and this could play a major role in tomorrow's game.  UNI head coach Greg McDermott succinctly praised the play of Mullins, "He's got moxie, he runs the game, he defends." 

 

Even if Mullins is 100%, the Salukis will struggle to score as usual.  Going against the big inside pair of O'Bryant and Sommerville, it will be on the hands of Jamaal Tatum and Tony Young to step up their games.  Tatum is SIU's leading scorer, but just hasn't found his shooting touch yet.  All I kept thinking as SIU has struggled to score is how nice it would be if they still had Darren Brooks around.

 

Bradley will look to pound it down low to the O'Bryant/Sommerville combo that combined for 34 points and 24 rebounds today.  O'Bryant managed his huge game going against MVC Player of the Year Paul Miller, and SIU doesn't have anyone half as good, or big, as Miller.  SIU center Randall Falker is only 6-7 to O'Bryant's 7-1, and the better fit may be 6-10 Jamaal Foster, except Foster weighs as much as some teams point guards.  Sommerville will have a tougher match up against Matt Shaw, who today spent most of the game chasing around UNI's Erick Crawford.  Shaw "wore Crawford out physically" according to Coach Lowery, but the bigger and stronger Sommerville poses more of a problem.

 

The way Bradley is playing right now, I'd be shocked if they lost.  The Braves are playing with a confidence and joy that the program hasn't seen in quite some time.  SIU is already more physically tired, and doesn't half the beef nor the fire power to get it done.  They'll most likely be sitting on their couches next weekend sweating out Selection Sunday.

 

Prediction:

#5 Bradley 60 - #2 Southern Illinois 55

 

Saturday, March 4th - 9:42 PM - UNI/SIU Recap

 

"We were just tougher," was Chris Lowery's rationale for why his team upended Northern Iowa 55-46 in overtime to advance to the MVC title game.  After watching these two teams scrap out it out down to the wire for the third time this season, his statement is completely unfounded.  Both of these teams played their hearts, and either team easily could have one.

 

The hero, at least in overtime for SIU, was sophomore Matt Shaw.  Once a heralded prospect, and now just a solidly built but unspectacular forward, Shaw's overtime was a personal highlight reel. He hit a huge jumper coming off a curl, had a big offensive board, hit a pair of clutch  free throws (after missing a big one in regulation), and even added a block in one of UNI's final possessions.

 

Offensively, UNI just never got anything going and couldn't mustered only 2 meaningful points in overtime (they had 4 others on uncontested shots in the closing seconds).  They spent the first half pounding the ball down low to Grant Stout and Eric Coleman, but spent the latter part of the game missing jumpers.  The change in philosophy was odd because Coleman particularly was having a lot of success early on getting to the rim and drawing fouls.  Coleman though was relegated to the bench in the game's closing minutes and overtime because, according to Coach McDermott, "we just went with a lineup we thought would be best defensively."

 

I can't say this makes much sense when your team shoots 35% for the game, and only hits a weak 42% of its field goals on the season.  But this simply highlights the defensive nature of all these games. Though the coaches would have us believe the defense is great, which it may be, the games simply lack any juice because of the poor offense.  Obviously the teams just want to win, but from the average fans perspective, I don't think the league is doing much for its public image right now.

 

The Salukis now hope to lock things up against Bradley tomorrow afternoon, while UNI awaits the Tournament Committee's decision.  Ben Jacobson, who missed a relatively open look to win it for UNI in regulation, said, "as far we're concerned, we're a 100% lock to be in," but he added, "unfortunately we don't have anyone on the committee."  You have to figure with UNI's impressive early season non-conference success, that they are a lock.

 

Saturday, March 4th - 4:05 PM - Dribble Thoughts

 

It's always interesting to hear the posturing coaches on the bubble do after big wins or big losses.. If you listened to most coaches, you'd think they have no clue what televisions, ESPN, or the internet even is.. I obviously haven't gotten a chance to watch any other games today, but it looks like Charlotte lost a golden chance to get a golden ticket in the Tournament.. Yes, the A10 is down and all, but you have to be impressed with GW's 16-0 conference record.. Congrats to Winthrop for winning the Big South.. The Eagles were the favorites from the beginning of the season, and this was one of those rare occasions where everything just went as planned.. I'm writing this while listening to WSU coach Mark Turgeon talk about his team' loss this afternoon.. He couldn't be any more humble in defeat, nor he could he seem happier with his team's effort today.. I can't tell if his endless complimenting of his teams effort is his way of not wanting to get his team down leading up to the Tournament, or if he just genuinely thought his team played that well.. I discussed UNI/SIU a little below, but here's my final score prediction.. So far I keep expecting that the teams here will figure out how to get the ball in the basket, so I'm making a point of picking a final low score in this one..

 

Prediction:

#6 UNI 61 - #2 Southern Illinois 54

 

Saturday, March 4th - 3:50 PM - Bradley/WSU Recap

“One more!”  That’s all Marcellus Sommerville kept yelling after the Braves knocked off #1 seed Wichita State by the final score of 60-52 .  While Bradley does need one more to win the conference championship, this 20th win should be enough regardless of what happens tomorrow to make the NCAA Tournament.  This was first time the Braves have won 20 games in 10 years, which was fittingly also the last time the Braves made the dance.

For Wichita State, it simply was a case of not getting the job done inside.  Paul Miller was just 6 of 16 from the floor, most of the misses coming down low due to the presence of Patrick O’Bryant.  Miller was surpassed in inadequacy by fellow big man Kyle Wilson who finished scoreless on 0 for 9 shooting.  Unlike yesterday’s win for Bradley where the guards did the brunt of the work, this win was on the shoulders of Sommerville (17 and 14 boards) and O’Bryant (17 and 10 with 5 blocks).  These numbers look nothing but good in the eyes of the NBA scouts in attendance.  The NBA likes big men who can run, dunk, and block shots and O’Bryant can do all three.

The biggest shot of the game though was by Bradley’s senior shooting guard Tony Bennett, who hit a huge three that put the Braves up six with exactly a minute left on the clock.

Bennett’s big three and the presence of Sommerville and O’Bryant offset another impressive performance from the Shockers Sean Ogirri.  Ogirri seems to be the only guy in town who can hit outside shots and had 19 points on 6-9 of shooting (5-6 from three.)  Outside of Ogirri however, WSU’s other plays shot 0-10 from three and as a team shot 32% from the floor.

Saturday, March 4th - 2:32 PM

Brandyn Heemskerk.  You’ve probably never heard of him. I certainly hadn’t.  But the bench warming 7-1 senior, who had played only 60 minutes all season, was the spark that got Bradley out of early-game doldrums.  Coming in for a tired Patrick O’Bryant, Heemskerk made a nice assist to Marcellus Sommerville and hit a pair of free throws (his 3rd and 4th makes of the season) to put Bradley within two at 17-15.

Wichita State’s strategy has definitely been to pound the ball down low to Paul Miller and Kyle Wilson, but it is only working with limited success.  O’Bryant, Bradley’s heralded sophomore big man, has managed to stay out foul trouble and will no doubt get major minutes in the second half.  With 1:30 to go in the half, Jim Les took O’Bryant out to ensure he only had a foul going into the half, giving my new hero Heemskerk a chance to see more action.

In yet another pathetically low-scoring Arch Madness game, the lone offensive bright spot is the Shockers’ Sean Ogirri who finished the half with 11 points, including three long-range bombs. The sophomore shooting guard has a sweet soft touch on his jumper, even his misses come off the rim extremely softly.

Looking forward to the upcoming SIU/UNI semifinal, you have to figure the Panthers will come away with the win.  The Salukis as usual will give a solid defensive effort, but UNI simply has the more talented players.

Speaking of talent, I don’t know much about cheerleading, but I imagine Wichita State must be one of those teams that competes on those ESPN competitions.  Their performance got perhaps the biggest cheer of the week from the impressively filled Savvis Center. I haven’t heard the attendance totals from today’s semifinals session, but I imagine it will be the biggest, or at least close to the biggest in MVC Championship history.

Right now Louisville is tied at 50 with UCONN.  If the Cardinals win, will we have to deal with the absurd proposition that Louisville will now deserve to make the tournament?

Saturday, March 4th - 11:45 AM - Daily Dribble Thoughts

 

I often harp on games with a lack of offense, but I had no expectation of sitting through so many at the MVC Tournament..  It seems like all the coaches have conspired to play zone, and then counter the zone by simply swinging the ball around for 30 seconds and then getting off poor shots.. Congrats to Penn for being the first team to make the NCAA Tournament.  They clinched the Ivy Championship with a win at Yale yesterday.. Yale is probably the only Ivy team with a chance of getting an invite to the NIT.. Congrats to #8 seeded Appalachian State for knocking off heavily favored #1 seed Georgia Southern in the SoCon tournament.  Eagles fans (that would be Southern fans) hounded me a few times for favoring Davidson throughout the season in the SoCon, but I guess it wasn't such a bad choice.. Outside of that, things mostly went as planned in Friday's conference tournament action.. If you haven't heard, Duke faces UNC tonight.. It doesn't really matter that much, outside of pride, who wins this game, but it does matter a lot to see if JJ's slump continues.. 2nd place A10 squad Charlotte hasn't done much to distinguish themselves this season, but a win over #6 GW today would be huge.. CBS thought they had a dandy on their hands with Louisville at UCONN this afternoon.. Unfortunately the Cardinals didn't hold up their share of the deal, but this is still a potentially dangerous team in the NIT, if they accept an invitation.. The Atlantic Sun champ will be 1st round NCAA fodder, but it's still fun to watch teams win their conference championship.. Belmont was CHN's preseason favorite, so we'll stick with thim against Lipscomb in today's final.. Check out Murray State in today's OVC final against Samford.. The Racers are one of the only teams in the country not to have 6 guys averaging 8 ppg, because they consistently go 9 or 10 deep and spread the shots around..  This seems like their year, though surprising Samford did split against Murray in the regular season..

 

Saturday, March 4th - 11:11 AM - Missouri St/UNI Recap

Despite hopes of a more explosive game, neither team shot over 40% in the first half as UNI led 23 to 21.  Ahearn, Missouri State’s leading scorer at 17 ppg was held scoreless on just 0 of 2 shooting.  Jacobson, UNI’s leader at 14 ppg, managed 5 points on just 1 of 6 shooting.  It is amazing to see Jacobson struggle again like he has all year, he simply just doesn’t hit the same open shots that he once used to.

Both teams did have occasional success playing inside-outside and knocking down some threes.  Tyler Chaney was particularly hot for Missouri State, scoring 10 points on a perfect 4 of 4 shooting.

In the always important battle of spirit squads, Missouri State no doubt has the best (at least, best looking) cheerleader and dance teams in the tournament. Northern Iowa is right there in the 2nd tier along with SIU and WSU. 

While MSU trumps UNI in pep, neither team would seem to have a big advantage against potential semifinal foe SIU tomorrow.  Both teams split against SIU, though the Bears final scores were more impressive. 

In the 2nd half, Northern Iowa made a concerted effort to pound the ball inside early.  Eric Coleman got the ball in post in each of their first possessions and this set the tone of things to come.  After a full five minutes of play, Missouri State went scoreless allowing the Panthers to jump out to a 29-23 lead.

Unfortunately, things only went downhill from their for the Bears, who fizzled out in a 57-42 loss.  I could bore you with more details of the Bears weak second half effort, but I'll spare you.  The game was basically a dud.

Friday, March 3rd - 8:30 PM - Missouri St/UNI Preview

 

The night-cap features 3rd seeded Missouri State and 6th seeded Northern Iowa.  Without a doubt, the Panthers, who reached the Top 25 earlier in the season, are the best #6 seed in the history of the MVC Tournament. 

 

Panthers star Ben Jacobson was simply underwhelming all season, and it will be interesting to see whether he can rekindle his magic in the conference tournament.

 

Despite being the higher seeded team, the Bears of MSU are definitely the less known team nationally.  Shooting guard Blake Ahearn has emerged in his junior season as a bona fide star after previously being the Bears sixth man.  While UNI’s biggest question mark is the shooting of Jacobson, the Bears’ success could depend on the play of their big men.  Sophomore Drew Richards will get the start at center for MSU along with Nathan Bilyeu at the PF, but those two will struggle to defend the bigger and tougher pair of Grant Stout and Eric Coleman. 

 

In recent years, Missouri State has probably overachieved in the MVC tournament, but its hard to say how they’ll fare coming in as the favorite.  Needless to say, Coach Hinson will be stomping away on the sideline getting his team pumped up.  Coach McDermott on the other hand, win or lose, can at least go to sleep tonight knowing that he recently got a nice juicy raise.

 

After a long day down at the Savvis, the action should peak in this game.  I don’t expect the sluggish start nor the continued struggle to get the ball in the basket.  With bombers like Ahearn Jacobson, these teams will probably hit some jumpers.

 

Prediction:

#6 Northern Iowa 72 - #3 Missouri State 69

 

Friday, March 3rd - 8:15 PM- SIU/Evansville Recap

Without the hot hand of Bradley Strickland like in UE’s 64-59 victory over SIU last week, the Aces just didn’t have enough fire-power.  For a long stretch of the 2nd half, Evansville’s only offense was giving it to Webster hoping he got fouled.  A long-range pull-up three by solid freshman point guard Brad Holsinger gave Evansville hope down 62-49 with three minutes to go.

The Salukis were able to bank on junior shooting guard Jamaal Tatum, who finished with 25 points (8 of 16 shooting), and consistently was able to penetrate into the lane.  MVC Newcomer of the Year Bryan Mullins was his usual rock-solid self.  Don’t be deceived into thinking that Mullins’ 6 ppg and 3 apg are unimpressive, this kid is able to control the game and makes smart decisions.

While the Salukis continue their quest for another NCAA Tournament bid, Evansville finishes with 10 wins and looks towards the future.  The Aces don’t have a senior of note on their roster, and have a good future with freshmen like Holsinger, and swing man Shy Ely.

The most exciting part of this game was probably when it ended so that my ears were given a rest by the shrill piercing yells of the Saluki fans sitting besides me.  Teams like Creighton and Wichita State definitely bring an impressive amount of loud fans, but the Saluki fans are particularly boisterous.  Boisterous is a kind word, as their fans were mostly bitter and angry with the foul situation in this game. 

Friday, March 3rd - 7:00 PM

The first half was sluggish as expected as Southern Illinois leads just 25 to 16.  The shooting, as expected, has been horrendous.  The teams shot 31% and 30% respectively, and hit a combined 1 of 15 threes.  Evansville’s only chance is if they continue to pound the ball down low to Matt Webster (6-7, JR) or Bradley Strickland (6-9, SO) finds his recent magic.  Webster is a load to handle down while Strickland is coming off a monster week in which he was MVC Co-Player of the Week.

Watching both school’s dance teams perform, the difference between these two programs comes clearly into perspective.  Everything about SIU, their team, fan-base, band, cheerleaders, dance team, everything is simply bigger,  better, and more expensive than Evansville’s.  When people wonder what it is that separates the power conferences from the mid-majors, you need to simply look at the Purple Aces.

Watching and listening to Chris Lowery coach, it’s easy to look his straight-forward manner. It’s also good to see his mentor of sorts (or was it really Bruce Weber), Matt Painter, in attendance across the court. 

Friday, March 3rd - 5:21 PM - SIU/Evansville Preview

 

Perhaps no team has more on the line in this tournament than Southern Illinois.  The Salukis have made for straight NCAA Tournaments, but are firmly on the bubble.  By grabbing the #2 seed, the Salukis get to face the relatively easy opponent in #7 Evansville (at least compared to #6 Northern Iowa.)  The Aces dispatched Drake last night, and have won three straight. One of those wins was a nice 5 point home win over SIU.  However, a neutral court is another story, and you’d have to be shocked if Coach Lowery’s team didn’t walk away with the win.

 

After watching everybody struggle to hit shots so far, I'm not expecting much offense in this game.  SIU's broke 70 points just twice all season, only once in this calendar year, and the odds are neither team will break 60.

 

Prediction:

#2 Southern Illinois 57 – #7 Evansville 50

 

Friday, March 3rd - 5:01 PM - Creighton/Bradley Recap

Make it 10 of 12 for Bradley who comes away with a huge 54-47 win over Creighton.  For the Blue Jays, they were ultimately bitten by extremely poor outside shooting, 2 of 20 from three, particularly Johnny Mathies uncharacteristically bad 2 for 13 performance.  In fact the rim just at the Savvis must be particularly tight, because the teams combined for an atrocious 6 of 41 (14%) from three. 

For the Braves, the win was particularly impressive due to the fact it wasn’t their big frontcourt of Sommerville and O’Bryant who dominated, but it was their backcourt.  Senior’s Lawrence Wright (18 points) and Tony Bennett (16 points) did the bulk of the scoring for Bradley, combining for 12 of the team’s 19 made field goals.  O’Bryant, saddled with fouls most of the game was a relative non-factor, though he still impressed with his ability to run the floor for such a large (7-0), young (sophomore) kid.  Sommerville did do a good job when O’Bryant was on the bench and hit perhaps the game’s biggest shot, a three-pointer to Bradley up 6, 50-44, with just a minute to go.

Everyone figures that Creighton is a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but the question is whether Bradley needs to win the MVC Championship, or at least another game, to make the Big Dance.  This was Bradley’s 19th win, and its hard to argue that they’re not playing as well as, or as deserving, as any of the other teams in the conference.  Coach Jim Les said when he recruited the current crop of seniors, including Bennett, Wright, and Sommerville, he asked them to “put Bradley basketball on the map.”  Whether they are actually on the map at this point is still up for grabs, but as PTI just flashed on the TV down in the media room and they were debating whether the MVC deserves 6 bids, no doubt this conference is firmly on the map.

Friday, March 3rd - 4:12 PM

I realized that earlier this morning I wrote that Bradley’s biggest non-conference win was at home against Western Kentucky. I forgot however, that the Braves opened the season with a big 75-60 win at DePaul back on November 19th.  Eleven days later Creighton also made the trip to Chicago to face the Demons but lost by 15 points.

Friday, March 3rd - 3:30 PM

Not surprisingly, the first half ended with a low score of 23 to 19.  The offensive star (if there can be in a 23-19 game) so far has been Creighton’s Anthony Tolliver, who has 10 points and even hit a big three.  The 6-9 big man actually shoots 42% from long range on the season.

For Bradley, no one particularly stood out.  O’Bryant had moments, but spent a lot of time on the bench with 2 fouls.  Sommerville also picked up a pair, but at this point in his career, he’s just a glorified jump shooter.  Sophomore point guard Daniel Ruffin was perhaps most impressive.  Not that he played that great, but I’d never seen him before and I was very impressed with his ball-handling skills.

Friday, March 3rd - 2:44 PM

Like all the other games so far, both Creighton and Bradley have come out flat, as both teams have combined for 3 points in the first 3+ minutes.  This has been the theme in all MVC games so far.  Dana Altman wasted no time making early subs, setting the tone for what should be the Jays high pace.

Friday, March 3rd - 2:32 PM - Wichita St/Indiana St Recap

I arrived to Savvis Center in time to catch the end of Wichita State’s 81-63 victory over Indiana State.  The sycamores were close for a good two-thirds of the game before a pair of Kyle Wilson threes broke open what was a 57-51 game.  It definitely didn’t help that the Sycamores tired as the game went on following last night’s victory.  Sean Ogirri, who came through with an impressive 5 threes provided a lot of defensive pressure along with PJ Couisnard.  “We were just wearing out their guards,” noted Ogirri. 

For Indian State, this game marked the end of David Moss’ fine career.  Unfortunately, he had to end on a somewhat sour note in the loss, shooting only 7 for 21 (thanks in part to Couisnard’s defense), but this in no way diminishes what was an awesome career for the star guard.  WSU coach Mark Turgeon was unabashed in his respect for Moss’ career, praising how he was, “always jumping up and down, happy, and excited.”  Hopefully, as Turgeon noted, Moss’ hand is healed from an in-season injury so he can go on to play pro ball.

The Shockers were supported by an awesome crowd, who will stick around for tomorrow afternoon’s match up with either Creighton or Bradley.  Wilson was thankful for the great support, “It’s awesome.. all the people who drove or flew down from Wichita.”  No teams have better fan support than WSU and Creighton, and a battle between those two will have the Savvis Center rocking. 

Friday, March 3rd - 11:58 AM

 

I'm about to head down to the Arena to catch the end of WSU vs Indiana St and the rest of the day's games.  The Sycamores got into today's action by coming back from an amazingly low 19-10 deficit to upset (theoretically) the #8 seed Drake. 

 

For all intents and purposes this tournament really starts at 2:30 when Creighton faces Bradley in a game that has huge NCAA consequences.  The Braves have been smoking as of late, winning 9 of 11 games to move into serious tournament contention.  The problem though is that though they have a gaudy RPI, the fact is their best non-conference win (and only one of any note) is a home win over Western Kentucky.  This will not cut it for the committee.  A win over Creighton is a must for Bradley.

 

The problem is that Creighton is always rock-solid, doesn't matter the venue, the date, or whose on their roster.  Dana Altman is the class of this league, and he manages to bring out the best in his players.  The Jays dealt with sharp blow of losing Nate Funk early on and managed to put together a 19 win season.  Unlike Bradley, Creighton can point to nice non-conference victories vs Dayton, Nebraska, Xavier, and a nice RPI-boosting road win at CAA leading George Mason.

 

Predictions:

#1 Wichita St 69 - #9 Indiana St 55

#4 Creighton 74 - #5 Bradley 7

 

Friday, March 3rd - 11:44 AM

 

If you're hungry for more MVC info, check out Jeff Borzello's MVC Tournament preview.

2006 State Farm MVC Tournament Schedule & Results

Thursday, March 2


Game 1 -- #9 Indiana State 72, #8 Drake 63
Game Recap | Post Game Quotes

Game 2 -- #7 Evansville 52, #10 Illinois State 45
Game Recap | Post Game Quotes

 

Friday, March 3


Game 3 -- #1 Wichita State vs. #9 Indiana St., noon
Game 4 -- #4 Creighton vs. #5 Bradley, 2:30 p.m.

Game 5 -- #2 Southern Illinois vs. No. 7 Evansville, 6 p.m.
Game 6 -- #3 Missouri State vs. #6 UNI, 8:30 p.m.

 

Saturday, March 4


Game 7 -- Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 1:30 p.m.
Game 8 -- Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 4 p.m.
 

Sunday, March 5


Game 9 -- Championship Game, 1:05 p.m., Live on CBS Sports

 

 

CHN POSTSEASON CONTENT

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2006 NCAA Basketball Tournament

Bracketology

Broadcast Basketball: Postseason Viewer's Guide

College Basketball Preview: 2005-06

See how CHN predicted the MVC prior to the season

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