The Valley will wind out the pre-Christmas non-league slate in the next nine days with 21 non-MVC games. Thirteen of those are at home, where the league is 41-10 this season. Two games this week are featured on the ESPN family of networks, including Evansville at North Carolina on Thursday (ESPN) and Iowa at Drake (ESPNU) on Saturday.
State Farm Missouri Valley Player of the Week
Shy Ely, Evansville, Sr., 6-5, Fwd., Indianapolis (Ind.) Speedway High
Ely totaled 41 points in two wins last week, including a season-high 26 in Saturday's 72-40 win over Western Kentucky. Ely had 15 points and six rebounds in an 80-76 win over Eastern Illinois, and then hit 10 of 14 shots in the romp over the Hilltoppers on Saturday. The win improved UE to 7-1, its best record after eight games since 1981-82.
Newcomer of the Week
Craig Stanley, Drake, Jr., 5-11, Gd., Plano (Texas) [Collin County C.C.]
Stanley averaged 11.0 points and 4.0 assists in three games, while leading Drake to two victories. He shot 56 percent from the field (14-of-25) while establishing career highs in scoring in consecutive games, collecting a then career-high 12 points, including the game winning three-point basket with 3:04 left to key Drake to 66-63 win at Iowa State Tuesday. It marked only the third victory by a MVC school against a BCS team and the league's first road victory this season at a BCS school. He had a new career high of 14 points in the 84-73 win at Georgia Southern on Friday.
In addition to the league’s player and newcomer of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:
Illinois State One of 14
Only 14 of 343 Division I teams have a perfect record through games of Dec. 14. Illinois State (9-0) represents the Missouri Valley Conference on that list. Illinois State next plays at Central Michigan on Dec. 17.
Unbeaten Division I Teams (thru Dec. 14)
10-0 BYU (Mountain West)
10-0 Clemson (ACC)
10-0 Oklahoma (Big 12)
10-0 Pittsburgh (Big East)
9-0 Illinois State (MVC)
8-0 Connecticut (Big East)
9-0 Minnesota (Big Ten)
9-0 North Carolina (ACC)
9-0 Syracuse (Big East)
9-0 Wake Forest (ACC)
9-0 Xavier (A-10)
7-0 LSU (SEC)
6-0 Ohio State (Big Ten)
5-0 Stanford (Pac-10)
Redbirds Look for 10-0
Illinois State has a 9-0 record for the first time in 31 years. The last time Illinois State won its first nine games of the season was during the 1977-78 campaign, when the Redbirds won their first 12 games of the season. Since 1984-85, only three Valley schools have started the year 10-0 or better (Creighton, 12-0, 2003-04; Missouri State, 10-0, 1996-97; Creighton, 10-0, 2002-03), while 25 teams all-time have started the season 10-0 or better.
Aces ... Best Since 1982
Now 7-1, the Purple Aces are off to their best start since the 1981-82 team won 10 of its first 11 on the way to Evansville's first NCAA Tournament appearance at the Division I level. Up next for UE -- top-ranked and unbeaten North Carolina on Thursday in Chapel Hill.
The Drive for Five
Creighton takes a four-game win streak into Monday night's home game against Southern. The Bluejays have had at least one five-game win streak in each of the previous 11 seasons, and 18 such streaks overall in the 15-year tenure of Dana Altman. Since 1988-89, the Bluejays have made the postseason all 14 previous times they've had a five-game winning streak in a season, but missed the postseason all six times they haven't.
MVC Among Elite Again
The Missouri Valley Conference is No. 11 among 31 Division I leagues in the Collegiate Basketball News RPI Report (thru Sunday). The MVC has been rated among the nation's top 10 conferences in RPI and in schedule strength in each of the past four seasons. Evansville, at No. 17, is the league's highest-rated team. Five teams are in the top 100.
Bring on the Big Boys
Drake is looking to achieve a rarity in Missouri Valley Conference history by trying to beat both a Big 12 and Big Ten school in the same season for a third straight year when it hosts Iowa this Saturday. Drake earned a 66-63 victory at Iowa State last Tuesday for its third straight victory over the Cyclones. The Bulldogs have beaten Iowa two straight years. In fact, the Bulldogs have won Iowa's "Big Four" title two-straight years, going undefeated against the state's Division I programs, including four victories vs. UNI.
MVC Against the BCS
This year, the MVC has a 3-16 record against members of BCS-football leagues (1-1 at home, 1-6 neutral, 1-9 away). Last year, the league went 13-13 against BCS schools, which included an 8-3 home mark. In 2006-07, The Valley was 17-14 against BCS teams. Nine of the league's 16 losses to BCS schools this year have been to teams ranked in the Top 25.
MVC Against the Top 25
Evansville faces top-ranked and unbeaten North Carolina on Thursday. The MVC is 0-9 against top-25 teams in 2008-09 (notably none of those games were at home). Last year, The Valley had a 2-8 mark against top-25 non-conference foes. In 2005-06 and 2006-07, the MVC posted six non-conference wins each year against nationally ranked teams. The last time the league went winless against top-25 non-conference competition was in 2004-05 when the MVC was a collective 0-4. A Valley team last beat a No. 1 team on 3/24/62, when Cincinnati topped Ohio State, 71-59.
- Courtest: Valley Media Relations