Evansville at Creighton (Missouri Valley)
Qwest Center - Omaha, NE
8:05 PM EST
Valley race is, and I think we can all agree on this, mercifully about to end. There are only three regular-season games to go, and then we can get to the important business of sticking all these teams into a big arena in St. Louis and letting them sort things out amongst themselves in the First (and hopefully last) Annual Bizarch Madness
. Trying to make sense of the proceedings for the past seven weeks has been hard on all of us, let's get it over with already.
Let's not lose sight of the great stories that have emerged in the MVC, though. Evansville, for instance, is having its best season in a decade -- if the current senior leadership impresses on the youngsters that winning is fun, the Purple Aces could emerge in 2009-10 as a real threat to win its first NCAA bid since 1999. The team won three of their first four league games, have struggled to find the right balance between scores and stops since, but are still 7-8 and in position to nab its first winning Valley season since Ace Purple flashed his dazzling white threads at the Big Dance. And then there was this
, the 12-hour bus ride through blizzard remnants
that was rewarded by a buzzer-beating win at Drake. I think about that every time I get whiny and cranky at 4 p.m. and don't feel like going to a mid-major basketball game. So should you.
Then there's Creighton, which would probably be in outside position for an NCAA bid if the Bluejays had either scheduled a little harder or jumped into a Multi-Team Event. With the exception of two short slumps in November and January marked by unfocused offense, this team is probably good enough to have covered its size issues with shooting and claim another Top 50 win
, something the conference only owns two
of. As it stands now, Dana Altman's bunch will have to win out and use its Valley-best 3-point power (40 percent) to grab the autobid. Just one game back
of Northern Iowa now, Creighton has two regular season games remaining after tonight: at Missouri State and Senior Night with Illinois State (not counting its Buster against George Mason). On a six-game streak and winning its Valley games by an average of 10 points, it's all about momentum from this point forward.Basketball State Preview/Box