As part of this Championship Week coverage, I am reporting on five conferences. Most of them have funny names that make you feel like you are heading towards the Oregon Trail and are likely made up, such as "Big Sky" and "Horizon." Others however are conferences that you are told every year are "mid-major" and are "sleepers" and "Billy Packer hates them with a passion." One of those such conference is the Missouri Valley Conference, which has produced team after team of guys with floppy hair who can shoot threes better than you. On the off chance that you were distracted by the baby episode of "The Office", (which was decent but has me worried that the show will become way too baby-oriented and as all people my age can tell you, when your friends become too baby-oriented, they become lame...but I digress) then it is up to me to let you knowthis year's Missouri Valley Conference Tournament actually began tonight.
Unlike in past years, the Missouri Valley is a one-bid league this year unless its top team, Northern Iowa were to get upset in the tournament in St. Louis. Thus every game at the MVC Tournament is not only a chance to see Nelly live and in person, but also an elimination game that could spell the end of your postseason, unless you get invited to whatever constitutes that wacky "CBI" Tournament. Northern Iowa is the distinct favorite, but teams like Wichita State, Creighton and Illinois State are perfectly constituted to pull an upset. That is why all day on Friday we will be giving you game by game MVC coverage on this blog to let you see what is happening in the "Biggest Little Conference in America", right before the Championship game is played on CBS on Sunday.
Tonight there were two opening games, and they went like this:
DRAKE 63 SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 61
If you are like me, you probably assumed that Southern Illinois was good this year. They were picked 4th in the conference preseason, have that coach that every year is called an "up and comer" in Chris Lowery and are located Carbondale, Illinois, a place that just sounds like it should be home to a mid-major champion. But the reality is that the Salukis have actually been disappointing for two straight seasons, finishing last year with a losing record and this year at .500. Tonight they lost to Drake on a last-second buzzer beater by Josh Young of Drake, producing the first such game-ending shot of the Championship week season. Southern Illinois was up 10 with 8 minutes ago but channeled their inner Greg Norman for a choke job that will have the Salukis shaking their heads during the long offseason. For Drake, the reward is a 1 pm tipoff against in-state rival, Northern Iowa in what will likely be the "game you can skip" of the MVC Tournament. Although both losses came in close games, Drake is 0-2 this year against Northern Iowa and with the quick turnover in game time and the disparity in talent, will soon be 0-3. But hey, at least they got one conference tournament victory and were great in "Degrassi."
MISSOURI STATE 52 EVANSVILLE 46
There are certain moments in which you need to take a step back, look at the way you are spending your time and evaluate your life. One of those moments occurred for me tonight as I desperately searched the MVC website trying to find a live feed of the Missouri State-Evansville 7-10 matchup in the first round of the Conference Tournament. I ended up spending an hour following along via a live gamecast and recognizing that the worst basketball played outside of the Young Republicans Convention was taking place on a court in St Louis between these two juggernauts. Both teams shot poorly, played sloppy and in the end, Missouri State pulled out the victory. Going into the tournament, Missouri State was my sleeper, mainly because they lost their last 6 games by only a combined 20 points and still have 20 overall wins on the season. They will have to play better than they did tonight, but I am going out on a limb for tomorrow. MISSOURI STATE WILL BEAT WICHITA STATE IN THE SECOND ROUND
There you heard it here first....the big upset of the MVC Tournament will occur tomorrow night in the late game. So call all your friends, wake them up, tell them that there is a school they have never heard of called Missouri State and they will beat Wichita State tomorrow night. Then find new friends. See you tomorrow.
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