The Missouri Valley Conference moved up another spot to the No. 10 position in the latest Collegiate Basketball News RPI Report. As a league, The Valley has the 15th-best strength of schedule, up eight spots from last week.
Four in the Top 100
For the first time this season, four Valley teams rank in the RPI’s Top 100, led by Creighton (60). Missouri State (69), Bradley (90) and Illinois State (92) also represent the MVC among the nation’s top teams in the RPI.
Lost in Translation
Of the MVC’s 46 losses in non-conference action, 25 (.587) have come against teams in the RPI’s Top-100.
Inside the Numbers
Outside of the six BCS conferences (Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, SEC, Pac 12 and ACC), just three other leagues – Colonial, Atlantic 10 and West Coast – best the Valley in the latest RPI report (Dec. 18). Among other key midwest conferences, the MVC ranks ahead of the Summit (12), Mid-American (14), Horizon (16) and Conference USA (18).
The Valley .500
Through six weeks of non-conference play, eight of ten league schools currently hold records at or above .500. If this holds true, it would tie the highest total of MVC teams to end the season with records at or above .500 (eight teams at or above .500 in 2009-10).
Previously, seven teams have finished the season .500 or better on four occasions -- 2010-11 (5 winning, 2 at .500), 1998-99 (7 winning records), 1996-97 (6 winning, 1 at .500) and 1993-94 (6 winning, 1 at .500).
The Week Ahead
The Valley will play five teams from BCS-football conferences this week, one of which is a ranked opponent. Southern Illinois travels to No. 21 DePaul, while Creighton hosts Kansas on Wednesday.
Against the Field
The MVC holds a winning record against 13 leagues in non-conference play (ACC, Atlantic-10, Big Sky, Big South, Great West, Horizon, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Mountain West, Southland, Summit, Sun Belt and WAC) and at least a .500 mark against another three (Big West, Conference USA and Metro Atlantic).
The MVC holds an unblemished record in non-conference action against nine other leagues, including ACC (1-0), Atlantic-10 (1-0), Big Sky (1-0), Big South (2-0), Mid-Eastern (1-0), Mountain West (3-0), Southland (3-0), Sun Belt (4-0) and the WAC (1-0).
Illinois State leads the nation in three-point field-goal percentage, connecting on 43.0-percent of all attempts.
Southern Illinois’ Teri Oliver owns the nation’s fourth-most three-point field-goals per game, burying 3.4 shots each contest.
Creighton’s Sarah Nelson ranks eighth in the nation in field-goal percentage. Her 61.4-percent leads the league by two percentage points.
Topping Postseason Teams
To date, MVC teams have 17 wins against teams that participated in either the NCAA, WNIT or WBI postseason events last season. The 17 wins over postseason teams matches the league total of 17 postseason wins last season.
A Creighton tradition continues this year, as head coach Jim Flanery appears to have put together the toughest non-conference schedule in the MVC again. As of Monday, Creighton’s strength of schedule on RealTimeRPI.com was 30 - tops in the league. The next closest team to CU was Illinois State with an SOS of 74. Creighton’s RPI of 68 was also the best mark in the league, just ahead of Missouri State’s 70.
December to Remember?
The Bulldogs opened December with a 4-0 record for first first time since the Lisa Bluder-led Bulldogs went 5-0 in December of 1999. December has typically been Drake’s least-successful month under head coach Amy Stephens. The Bulldogs carry a 25-28 record in the 12th month under Stephens, the only sub-.500 record for any month during her tenure.
Eight Would Be Great
In the Division I era (1982-present), UNI has never registered its eighth victory earlier than Dec. 30. The Panthers have two chances to earn their eighth win of the season before Dec. 30 (Dec. 20 at Iowa State and Dec. 29 vs. Wichita State).
What a Year
From Dec. 11, 2010, to Dec. 10, 2011, UNI posted a record of 29-5 – the best one-year stretch in the history of the program.
Multiples of Three
Junior guard Teri Oliver has made two or more 3-pointers in 15 consecutive games, which is the nation’s longest active streak for consecutive games with multiple 3-pointers. Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel was ahead of Oliver with 16 before having her streak broken Tuesday night. Oliver ranks fourth nationally with an average of 3.4 3-pointers made per game.