There’s been a lot of talk about the Atlantic Ten as an intriguing conference, but lest we forget the Missouri Valley where they may have as many teams if not more in the field of 68. Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said that the conference deserves three at-large bids. Let’s examine the resumes and see if he’s right
Creighton and Wichita State should have no problems making the tournament. Both teams are 19-3 with an RPI in the top 30. The Jays have a couple of nice wins on a neutral court against Wisconsin and Arizona State. They don’t really have a horrific loss outside of one at Drake. Their strength of schedule is 113 and have two games left with Indiana State and Wichita State. I can’t see a scenario where they are left out of the Field of 68 especially with a stud like Doug McDermott who people will love to watch.
The Shockers should have no problem whatsoever too. They have a win over Southern Miss and a road win at VCU on the resume. Their third best win is at Air Force so they have been able to get their wins on the road. WSU’s worst loss came at Evansville whose RPI is 105. They have a game with the Sycamores and Jays left both on the road. This is an incredible story as Gregg Marshall’s team was not expected to be this good.
Next up comes Indiana State. They have arguably the most intriguing profile of the group with wins over Miami and Ole Miss although both of those came on a neutral court. The Sycamores have some horrific losses falling to SIU, Morehead State and Illinois State with all sporting RPI’s over 135. They have home games with Creighton and Wichita State and a talented team led by Jake Odun. I’ll say this for the Sycamores…they get a chance to solidify their spot in the field of 68 with the big boys at home. They are in for now, but that’s not set in stone at all.
I’m going to assume that Coach Jacobson is also talking about Evansville and Bradley in the mix. Well, both teams are 13-9 with an RPI in the 100’s. The Aces especially lack in the best win category having knocked off national power Western Illinois. They have a terrible loss to Buffalo whose RPI is in the 200’s. This team hosts Creighton and plays at Wichita State, but even that may not be enough. The Braves RPI is 161 with a loss to Portland whose RPI is 226. They have a pair of games with Creighton, but will not a lot more then that.
It’s nice to see that Coach Jacobsen has a lot of pride in his conference, but they are a three bid league at the most. Of course, anything can happen in the conference tournament and sometimes in this conference the wild occurs.