The last two Missouri Valley Conference teams to win a postseason national men's basketball tournament will meet in game two of the best-of-three championship series of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational when Bradley hosts Tulsa on April 2 (7 pm FCS).
Bradley won the last of its four NIT championships in 1982, a year after then-Valley member Tulsa won the first of its two NIT titles. Tulsa was a member of the MVC from 1934-35 through 1995-96 and Monday’s championship series opener was the 100th all-time meeting in the series between the two schools.
6 Post-Season Wins in '08
In the past four years, The Valley has combined for 20 post-season wins, including six this year. In 2006, The Valley had seven post-season wins, which were the most since 1981 when Tulsa (5 wins and an NIT title) and Wichita State (3 NCAA wins) combined for eight victories for the league. The league had four post-season victories in 2005 (1 - NCAA, 3 - NIT) and three in 2007 (2 - NCAA, 1 - NIT).
First Things First
Bradley was invited to the 1st NIT (1938), 1st NCAA Tournament (1939), 1st National Campus Tournament (1951), 1st Commissioner's Cup Classic (1974), and now the 1st College Basketball Invitational (2008). Bradley turned down the 1939 NCAA bid in favor of the NIT. Drake won the Commissioner's Cup in 1975, in what was the final year of that tourney.
Win Total Among Best
The Missouri Valley's 84 non-conference wins in 2007-08 rank among the all-time best in the league's 101-year history. In fact, only nine previous seasons have yielded 80 or more victories outside of the league. This year's 84 wins rank seventh-best all time:
1970-71 107-47 (.695)
1971-72 105-47 (.691)
2006-07 90-36 (.714)
1980-81 89-40 (.690)
1950-51 86-42 (.672)
1974-75 85-50 (.630)
2007-08 84-45 (.651)
1972-73 80-47 (.630)
2005-06 80-34 (.701)
1949-50 78-27 (.743)
Adding to the Record; 1.3 Million Served
Fueled by Creighton (15,333), Wichita State (10,478) and Bradley (9,632) the league averaged 7,715 fans per game in home games. According to numbers supplied by the NCAA, the 2007-08 total attendance per-game average (including the five sessions at the conference tournament) is second-best all-time in league history. The 1,314,338 total gate is a league record, and Bradley's home attendance tonight will add to that record. Meanwhile, the 2008 State Farm MVC Tournament drew 64,551 in four days, which was second-best all-time (to 2007 -- 85,074).
Top all-time averages:
8,020 (2006-07) -- includes MVC Tournament
7,870 (2007-08) -- includes MVC Tournament
7,716 (2005-06) -- includes MVC Tournament
7,309 (1982-83) -- includes MVC Tournament
Top all-time gate:
1,314,338 (2007-08) -- includes MVC Tournament
1,251,050 (2006-07) -- includes MVC Tournament
1,203,771 (2005-06) -- includes MVC Tournament
1,137,677 (2004-05) -- includes MVC Tournament
Looking Ahead to 2009
For the second-straight year, the Valley is slated to have 24 of 50 starters returning. Although the starting experience isn't above 50 percent, the league returns 54 players who averaged double-figure minutes and 60 players who played in 25 or more games. A total of 31 returning players started 10 or more games for their teams in 2007-08. Three of the league's top five scorers and two of the league's top three rebounders return for next year.
Seven .500 or Better
Seven Valley teams will finish the 2007-08 season with .500 or better marks. The Valley has never ended a year with more than 7 of its members .500 or better (nine times total, including 2006-07 and 2007-08). Including this year, the league had at least six teams with .500 or better records in each of the past four years. Last year, every MVC team had a .500 or better non-MVC record for the first time since 1978-79. All 10 league schools were .500 or better in non-conference play in 2007-08 as well.
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 has 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].
RPI: Steady Eddie
The Valley has finished among the top eight conferences in each of the past four years, including a No. 6 ranking in 2005-06 and in 2006-07. Before 2006, The Valley's previous all-time best was No. 8 (1999, 2005, 2008).