|Wichita State's Nick Wiggins throws up the 3 goggles. Normally I'm no fan, but what a great shot. (Getty Images)|
Wichita State 67, Creighton 64 was everything any Missouri Valley/college basketball fan was hoping it would be. Good play, fan frenzy, game in doubt late -- all reasons why mid-major basketball has a couple of teams good enough to threaten for Final Four appearances this season.
You heard me right.
Smushed in the middle of an incredible two-hour window of college hoops just before dinnertime on the East Coast, the Bluejays and Shockers' game came down to the end and was as compelling as Syracuse-Louisville and/or Oregon-UCLA. In fact, had Creighton's Ethan Wragge (a 46-percent 3-point shooter) seen either of his 3s fall, free basketball would've been required.
Wichita State's win changes some dynamics at the Valley's peak. The 18th consecutive home win for Gregg Marshall's team also makes the Shockers leaders in the MVC. They're 6-1, same as Creighton, but with the tiebreaker as of now. I really love how good Wichita State is now with Carl Hall back. Hall is the big man who missed some time this season due to an injured hand. He had 17 points and 13 rebounds Saturday, proving necessary in the Shockers' victory.
This was good for the league, ultimately. Both teams are top-20 in the RPI and even better in KenPom.com. The same can be said for Sagarin ratings, which had Wichita State at No. 24 and Creighton ninth entering Saturday's games. WSU wasn't ranked, but that will change come Monday. And despite the loss, I think no less of Creighton -- and even more of WSU. I doubt the Bluejays lose another game in the regular season in Valley play. I'm not kidding. And if that's the case, WSU will only have its profile enhanced should it go on and lose just one or two more games prior to the MVC tournament.
Doug McDermott. There we go. I knew something was missing. Couldn't have another graph go on without mentioning my choice for Player of the Year. He led all scorers with 25 in this one. Some of those moves? Hoo-boy, just filthy, backyard hoops. If you missed the game because you were out or watching some other action, be sure to catch the highlights before you go to bed.
There's going to be a lot of takeaways from this slam-packed Saturday of college basketball. Forget even the big-conference teams; Gonzaga-Butler is the marquee game for small-conference play. We'll soon see how that one shakes out, but this game was as good as any that we've seen so far on Saturday -- proof that the MVC doesn't just have good teams at the top, it has some of the best in the country.
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