Missouri Valley Tournament: News & Notes

March 3rd, 2009
Wide Open?
The 2009 State Farm MVC Tournament could be one of the most unpredictable in league history.  Only twice has a seed worse than No. 3 won the event in 32 previous championships.  However, three of the four teams playing Thursday in the opening round have a combined eight wins against this year's top three seeds.  No. 7 seed Wichita State has home victories against Creighton, UNI, and Illinois State; while No. 8 seed Drake was the only team in the MVC to beat co-league champs UNI and Creighton on their homecourts.  No. 9 seed Indiana State also won at UNI, and swept third-seeded Illinois State.

State Farm Missouri Valley Player of the Week
Jordan Eglseder, UNI, Jr., 7-1, Ctr., Bellevue (Iowa) Marquette High

? Eglseder averaged 15.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots last week, helping lead UNI to a share of its first-ever MVC regular-season title.  Eglseder had 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks in the Panthers’ 69-67 double-overtime win at Illinois State on Feb. 24, and then had 20 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks – all team highs – in UNI’s win over Evansville in the regular-season finale.

Newcomer of the Week
Kevin Dillard, SIU, Fr., 5-11, Gd., Homewood (Ill.)Flossmoor High

? Dillard averaged 18.0 ppg and 4.5 apg in wins over Drake and Wichita State, lifting SIU into the No. 5 tournament seed.   He was 6-of-12 (.500) from 3-point range in the two games.  Against the Bulldogs, his 3-pointer with 3:05 remaining gave SIU a 51-49 lead, which it never relinquished. He made a pair of free throws with 12 seconds to go to seal the win.  Against the Shockers, he had 15 of his 21 points in the second half.

Well-Attended Tournament
?A total of 64,551 fans attended the 2008 State Farm MVC Tournament at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.  That total is the second-highest total tournament turnstile figure in MVC history.  The league has had 50,000 or more in each of the past six tournaments.

Panthers, Bluejays Tie
?For the fourth-straight year, the State Farm MVC Tournament has a different top seed.   UNI, which shared the regular-season title with Creighton, earned the No. 1 seed for the first time in school history.  The Panthers, picked sixth in the league's pre-season poll, finished with a regular-season record of 20-10 and 14-4 in league play, and held the tiebreaker over co-champion Creighton (25-6, 14-4).

First For UNI
?This year's crown is the first ever MVC regular-season title for the Panthers and 14th for Creighton.  The Panthers’ previous best finish was a second-place tie in 2004, a year in which UNI won the State Farm MVC Tournament.  Creighton, meanwhile, last earned a league regular-season crown in 2002, when the Bluejays were co-champs with Southern Illinois.

Title Town
?Counting this year, the league has had five different regular-season champs in the past four seasons (Wichita State-2006, Southern Illinois-2007, Drake-2008, and UNI/Creighton-2009).

How Many Will it Take?
?In each of the last nine seasons, the Missouri Valley regular-season champ recorded a 14-4 conference record or better.  Since The Valley began playing an 18-game league schedule (1991-92) only two 13-5 champs have emerged:  Illinois State (1993) and Evansville (1999). 

No. 1 Seed "Success"
?Before Drake swept the regular-season and tournament titles last year, the last No. 1 seed to win the league tourney was Illinois State in 1998.  The top-seeded team has won the tournament 11 times (of 32), but only four times in the 18-year history in St. Louis.

Seeds Important?
?In the 32 previous seasons of the MVC Tournament, only twice has a seed worse than a No. 3 won the title (No. 4 Creighton won in 2000 and No. 5 Indiana State won in 2001). 

Best Pole Position?
?Thirty of 32 previous tournament champions were seeded 1, 2, or 3.  No. 2 seeds have had the most success, winning 13 times, including seven of 18 tries in St. Louis.  Creighton (1999, 2002, 2003, 2007), UNI (2004), and Southern Illinois (1993, 2006) were No. 2 seeds and won the tournament those seasons.  The only non-No. 2 seeds to win the tournament in the past seven years are Creighton (No. 3 in 2005) and Drake (No. 1 in 2008)

Worst Pole Position?
?Since the league expanded to its current 10-team format in 1997, only one team that has played in the opening round has reached the semifinals (won two games).  Bradley, seeded a No. 7 in 1998, beat 10th-seeded Drake and then upset No. 2 seed Creighton, before falling in the semifinals to Missouri State.  The sixth-seeded teams have gone a combined 2-18 in tournament games in St. Louis.

Back-To-Back Titles?
?In league history, only Southern Illinois (1993-94-95) has won three-straight conference tourneys.  Only four teams have won back-to-back conference tournament titles.  Drake is the defending MVC Tournament champion, while Creighton is the last to repeat as tournament champions (2002, 2003).

Post-Season Streaks
?Creighton has reached post-season play a league-record 11-consecutive years.  Southern Illinois' streak of league-record six-straight NCAA Tournaments ended in 2008, but the Salukis were in post-season play for their seventh-straight year as they made the NIT.  Creighton and SIU were joined by Bradley (3 in a row), Drake (1), and Illinois State (1).

Four or More Bids, Again
?Last season, for the fifth-straight year, eighth time in the past 10 years, and the 14th time in the league's history, The Valley had at least four postseason bids.  Five teams represented the Missouri Valley Conference in post-season play.

NCAA Multi-Bid Streak
?Until last year, The Valley had two or more teams reach the NCAA Tournament in nine-straight years.  Only the six BCS-football leagues and The Valley had shared that streak of consecutive multi-bid years.

Making The Most of Bids
?In 2008, for the fifth-straight year, eighth time in the past 10 years, and the 14th time in the league’s history, The Valley had at least four teams in post-season play.  In 2007, the Salukis were the seventh MVC team to reach the Sweet 16 since 1994, although the MVC has received just 31 total bids from 1994-2008.  [nearly one of every four Valley NCAA berths since 1994 have resulted in a Sweet 16 trip].

The Back Nine ...
?Since 1991-92, all 26 MVC teams in the lead (or co-lead) at the break have reached post-season play.  The last Valley mid-season leader to not reach the post-season was Tulsa, in 1992.  Since then, mid-year leaders Bradley (1994 & 1999), Illinois State (1996), Wichita State (2005) and Creighton (2006) played in the NIT, while the other 21 mid-way leaders reached the NCAAs.  UNI led the league with its 8-1 record at the midway point this season.

Quick Starts Important
?Before this season, the last Valley men's basketball team to lose its league opener but still win at least a share of the regular-season title was the 1992-93 Illinois State team.  In fact, each of the past 13 seasons, the eventual regular-season champ started league play 2-0 or better.  In 1993, Illinois State's regular-season championship team started 0-2 (and 1-3) before winning the league at 13-5.   Co-champ UNI lost its league opener, Creighton started league play 2-0.

MVC Champs = NCAA
?Including Drake last year, 15-straight Missouri Valley regular-season champions have reached the NCAA tournament.  Illinois State (1992-93) was the last to win the league’s regular-season crown and not make it.  Drake is the first Valley team since 1998 (Illinois State that year) to sweep the regular-season and tournament titles.

WSU Makes History
?In the league's 102 seasons, a total of 49 teams, including WSU this year, started a conference season with 0-6 records or worse.  All but two of the previous 48 finished last, second to last (or tied for second-to-last) in the MVC standings.  WSU started the 2008-09 league campaign at 0-6 and finished tied for fifth place.  Here are the only two schools, plus WSU, to finish ahead of two others in the standings after starting 0-6 in league play:

Year -- Team (Started) -- finished
1921 -- Oklahoma (0-6) -- ended up 5-9 (7th of 9)
1959 -- Drake (0-6) -- ended up 4-10 (6th of 8)
2009 -- Wichita State (0-6) -- ended up 8-10 (t5th of 10)

MVC 20-Game Winners
?Including this year, the Valley has had a minimum of two 20-game winners in each of the past 11 seasons.  The league has had four or most 20-win teams for five-straight seasons, setting an all-time record with 6 in 2005-06.  The previous mark (4) has been reached five times (1994-95, 1999-00, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2006-07, 2007-08). 

20 Wins Important?
?Since the NCAA Tournament field was expanded to 64 teams (1985), 62 Valley teams, including three last year, have posted 20 wins prior to "Selection Sunday."  Forty-three have reached the NCAAs, and another 18 were in the NIT (Creighton was 20-12 in 1985 and did not reach the post-season -- the only MVC team with 20 wins not to reach post-season play since '85).

Active 20-Win Streaks
?Creighton has reached the 20-win plateau for a league-record 11th-straight season. In the 102-year history of The Valley, only five schools have won 20 games six-straight years, including Cincinnati (1957-58 to 1962-63), Bradley (1956-57 to 1961-62) Oklahoma State (1943-44 to 1948-49), and Southern Illinois (2001-02 to 2006-07), plus the current streak by Creighton.  The MVC has had at least four 20-win teams for five-straight years.

Active 20-Win Streaks in The Valley
11 - Creighton (1998-99 - 2008-09)
  3 - Bradley (2005-06 - 2007-08)
  2 - Illinois State (2007-08 - 2008-09)
  1 - Drake (2007-08)
  1 - Northern Iowa (2008-09)

Double-Digit Dandies
?All 10 Valley members have reached double-digit wins.  The league has had all of its members reach 10 wins only nine times previously in the 101-year history of the league (1954, 1955, 1956, 1963, 1971, 1985, 2000, 2005, and 2007).

Young Guns
?Only 23 of 50 starters returned for the MVC from last year.  Here's the makeup of the league's most commonly used starting lineups in recent weeks.  Of the league's current 50 starters - 19 of them are freshmen (10) or sophomores (9).  Only 15 of them are seniors, 16 are juniors.

Jays Riding the Wave
?Creighton has won 10 straight games entering the MVC Tournament for the second time this decade. The 2000-01 team won 10 straight games entering the Valley Tournament as well.  Creighton's 25 wins this year are second-most in school history, trailing only CU's 2002-03 team that entered the Valley Tournament 26-4 and finished the year 29-5 overall. That team smothered Southern Illinois, 80-56, in the championship game.

Drawing Big Crowds
?Last year, the league set an all-time record with 1,323,352 fans attending home games in league cities and the State Farm MVC Tournament.  This year, the league has three teams averaging more than 10,000 per game for the first time in conference history:  Creighton (16,242), Wichita State (10,391) and Bradley (10,019).  Creighton and Wichita State have both averaged better than 10,000 in each of the past five seasons.