The Home Stretch
Only 28 non-league games remain in the regular season. After Christmas Day, only the 10 games in the SEARS BracketBusters series remains (Feb. 17-19, 2012). Conference play begins Dec. 28.
On the Slate This Week
Here's a breakdown of the 18 total non-conference games this week:
Home: 10 (MVC is 42-9 at home this year)
Away: 3 (MVC is 13-14 in away games this year)
Neutral: 5 (MVC is 8-8 in neutral-site games this year)
BCS: 4 (SIU could face two more in Diamond Head) -- MVC is currently 10-10 against teams from BCS leagues
Player of the Week
RJ Mahurin, Indiana State, So., 6-8, F, Rockville (Ind.) Rockville High
Mahurin came off the bench to score a career-high 14 points as the Sycamores won at No. 25 Vanderbilt. He hit 5-of-8 shots (4-of-7 three-pointers) and added a pair of rebounds and one important assist. Mahurin hit three of his 3-pointers in the first half, including a key one late which drew the Sycamores within two points. He found Carl Richard open for another three in the final minute of the first half at the end of the shot clock which sent the two teams into the half tied. He hit each of his first two 3-pointers early to help ISU build an early 16-4 lead.
Newcomer of the Week
Michael Bizoukas, Missouri State, Sr., 6-1, G, Munster (Ind.) Munster High [DePaul University]
Bizoukas broke a JQH Arena record on Saturday with 11 assists in the Bears' win over Kennesaw State. The effort was also a career-high for Bizoukas who is averaging 8.7 assists with just 3 turnovers in the last three contests, with 14 rebounds in that span. He knocked down a pair of three-pointers (2-for-2) and blocked two shots in MSU's only game this week, accounting for all of his field goal attempts.
Valley Ranks No. 8
Last season, the Missouri Valley Conference ranked No. 11 in the season-ending Ratings Percentage Index. Only Missouri State (39) and Wichita State (35) represented the MVC in the Top 80. Through games of Sunday (Dec. 18) the MVC ranks No. 8, and six schools represent the league in the Top 100. The league's non-conference schedule strength is No. 14. Last year the MVC's non-conference schedule strength was No. 22 at season's end.
RPI Report (MVC Team Leaders, thru 12/18)
3 -- UNI (2-1 vs. Top 100)
15 -- Indiana State (3-1 vs. Top 100)
35 -- Creighton (1-1 vs. Top 100)
52 -- Wichita State (2-2 vs. Top 100)
88 -- Missouri State (3-2 on the road)
96 -- Drake (1-2 vs. the Top 100)
134 -- Bradley (0-2 vs. Top 100)
Here’s a comparison of where the MVC ranked in 2005-06 and 2006-07 (arguably the league's best-two year stretch in some time). Those two seasons, the MVC had three different Sweet 16 teams (Bradley, Wichita State in 2006, and Southern Illinois in 2007). And the MVC had its all-time best rankings as a conference in the RPI (ranked No. 6 at season's end each year). The MVC had 4 NCAA Tournament teams in 2006 (Bradley, UNI, Southern Illinois and Wichita State), and two teams in 2007 (Creighton, SIU).
2005-06 (through games of Dec. 18)
Conference Ranking: 3
Non-Conference Schedule Strength: 14
Teams in the Top 75: 6 (Indiana State-4, Missouri State-22, UNI-25; Creighton-44, Bradley-70, Wichita State-73).
Teams in the Top 100: 6 (see above)
Non-Conference Record: 57-20 (.740)
Home: 41-3 | Away: 12-13 | Vs. Top 25: 2-3 | Vs. BCS teams: 6-8
2006-07 (through games of Dec. 16)
Conference Ranking: 2
Non-Conference Schedule Strength: 8
Teams in the Top 75: 4 (Wichita State-5; Southern Illinois-17; Missouri State-31; Bradley-71).
Teams in the Top 100: 9
Non-Conference Record: 66-22 (.750)
Home: 45-1 | Away: 12-15 | Vs. Top 25: 5-1 | Vs. BCS: 13-11
2011-12 (through games of Dec. 18)
Conference Ranking: 8
Non-Conference Schedule Strength: 14
Teams in the Top 75: 4 (UNI-3; Indiana State-15, Creighton-35; Wichita State 52).
Teams in the Top 100: 6 (above, plus Missouri State and Drake)
Non-Conference Record: 63-31 (.670)
Home: 42-9 | Away: 13-14 | Vs. Top 25: 2-3 | Vs. BCS: 10-10
Against the BCS
Last year, Missouri Valley teams were a combined 11-22 against BCS schools, but only six of the 33 games were at home (the league was 4-2 in those games.) Through games of Sunday, Dec. 18, the MVC is 10-10 against BCS teams. This year, the MVC as a whole is 3-2 at home vs. BCS schools (1-2 road; 6-6 neutral). The league last had a .500 record against teams from BCS leagues in 2007-08.
BCS Busters at Home
Creighton will host Northwestern on Thursday at CenturyLink Center Omaha, where the Bluejays have won 12 straight regular-season home games against teams from the top-six BCS leagues since the start of 1996-97. Those 12 wins have been by an average of 11.3 points, with seven coming by double-digits, and none decided by fewer than six points.
Creighton is No. 21
Creighton (8-1) is ranked for the fifth-straight week in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll, checking in at No. 21 this week. The Bluejays are ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press poll. Indiana State, UNI, and Wichita State are earned mention in this week's AP top-25 poll. The Bluejays had climbed to No. 17 (coaches) and No. 19 (AP) before losing at St. Joseph's on Saturday, Dec. 10.
Bluejays Roll at Home
Creighton's 15-game homecourt win streak is 13th nationally (through 12/18). Drake has won nine-straight home games.
So far this year, the Missouri Valley Conference is 13-14 (.481) in road non-conference games. Seven of the road wins this year have been by double-digits, with three coming against 2011 NCAA Tournament teams. In 2009-10, the league combined for its only winning record in road non-conference play since 1996-97 (which coincides with the league's current 10-team membership alignment).
UNI has won eight-straight games prior to back-to-back home games on Monday and Tuesday (Dec. 19-20). That eight-game win streak ranks No. 11 nationally (through 12/18). Wichita State, meanwhile, has won six-straight games. The 6-game win streak is tied for 18th among active win streaks (through 12/18). Creighton's seven-game win streak to open the season was snapped on Dec. 10 at Saint Joseph's. Illinois State and Indiana State own the next-best active win streaks in the league as each has won their past two games.
This Year vs. the Top 25
This year, the MVC is 2-3 against top-25 teams (Wichita State lost to #15 Alabama, Bradley fell to #11 Wisconsin, WSU beat #18 UNLV, Evansville lost at #4 North Carolina, and Indiana State beat #25 Vanderbilt.) Last year, the MVC was a combined 1-11 against non-conference top-25 teams (Evansville won at No. 23 Butler for the league's only top-25 win.)