Did you ever watch old episodes of "Leave it to Beaver" when you were a kid? If you did, you noticed that each episode had a general set playbook. Beaver or Wally would get into some shenanigan and it would look as if something bad would happen. Usually the issue might involve mischief at the hands of Eddie Haskell or Lumpy, but in the end, Ward and June Cleaver would help find a way to make everything right and we would all learn a lesson in the end. The episodes took 25 minutes or so, but they easily could have been condensed into 45 seconds of action/cuteness by Jerry Mathers, thus preventing you from wasting your half hour. Nothing was new in any episode, yet I always watched, perfectly comfortable in the predictable results and unbelievable lack of humor.
I thought of these old "Beaver" episodes today as I watched a rather ho-hum set of Quarterfinals in the Missouri Valley Conference. On this very blog, I had hyped the day of "Arch Madness" as one of the better basketball viewing days of the year, full of great basketball, fan revelry and general March mayhem. Instead the biggest highlight was the lack of points scored by Drake, the drunkedness of the Creighton fans and playing "which of these guys would Larry Bird have punched in the face?" with the Indiana State roster. The games were rather predictable, and the favorites all held serve, setting up for what would seem to be a "must-watch" day in the Semifinals (although I am not falling for the MVC's sultry tricks again, so I wont make you stay home and watch).
Each game had one highlight:
Drake Couldnt Score: Yes we dealt with this earlier, but it bears repeating. Drake went 21 game minutes of action without scoring a field goal, and producing only three points in total in the 55-40 loss. That is over a half of game action without one basket going through the hoop. I have spent the day trying to wrap my head around this (and the fact that Keno Davis is apparently no longer the Drake coach...I didn't get that memo) and all I can decide is this. If you are going to be out of town for a weekend and you need someone to come and hang out with your wife, invite Drake, because they have shown they can't score. HEY-O!!!!!
Friday is Sam Maniscalco Day: I expected the game between Creighton and Bradley to be a battle and to come down to the end, as two evenly matched teams squared off and threw body blows for forty minutes. Instead, I got a free throw shooting marathon, in which Bradley outlasted Creighton 81-62, while shooting 27-28 from the free throw line. The king of the charity stripe was Maniscalco, who scored a career-high 31 points on 18 of 19 free throw shooting in the victory. Maniscalco (whose name emasculates all who speak it) had a previous high of 21 points on the season and in a game against Creighton last week, he scored only 3 points in 40 minutes of action. But that game wasn't on Friday, proving that nothing pumps Sam up like the thought of finishing a game and getting home to see what Urkel, Balki and Uncle Joey are going to be up to on ABC.
Wichita State is Due: I upset the Shocker masses (a sentence I rarely get to say) by picking against the boys from Wichita in their battle against Missouri State and for most of the game, I looked like I could be a wise sage. The game was tight throughout and until a key Garrett Stutz three late, the #2 seeded Shocker team looked to be in trouble in its "closer than the score indicates" 73-63 victory. However once again big shots and (repeat after me) clutch free throw shooting helped the Shockers move on and ruin the dreams of Missouri State fans everywhere. Wichita State is now looking to make the conference tournament finals for the first time since 1987. Can you believe that? In 1987, Ronald Reagan was still President, and the Shockers havent even been to a title game since then? If there was ever time to end a lingering 23 year jinx, Saturday is that day.
Illinois State is Hot: I dont necessarily mean the state of Illinois, although it could be hot as well, but the ISU basketball team, which has now won 7 of its last 8. Illinois State overcame the fact that it, like many in the crowd, was unaware that there were two "ISUs" in the conference and were thus able to focus and beat the kids from Terre Haute, 69-65 behind 17 points from Austin "One Tree" Hill. The Redbirds now move on to play Wichita State and as I incorrectly predicted last night, Wichita State is due for a beating. They havent made the finals since 1987 and if I have learned anything in life, it is that 23 years of consistency begats a 24th. Take all your finances, mortgage your house, move the kids to military school and BET IT ALL ON INDIANA STATE. Its happening this round, I know it....Wichita State is going down.
So there you go, a rather tame day of "Arch Madness." However Saturday's semifinals pit the four best teams in the conference against each other and both matchups are repeats of good games from the regular season. So if you get the MVC channel and can move the drunk Creighton fan out from in front of the television, catch the games tomorrow. They will be stellar.