Arch Madness (the clever nickname given to the Missouri Valley Conference tourney) gets underway on Thursday as the Missouri Valley decides who will get the conference’s automatic bids. All eyes will be on Creighton and Wichita State, but there are certainly other candidates.
Thursday’s matchups feature four teams who really won’t make much of a ripple in the tournament. Festivities begin with Bradley vs. Drake with the winner getting Creighton. The Blue Jays did lose to Drake once in the regular season, but figure to move on with no issues. Wichita State will get the winner of Missouri State and Southern Illinois who both struggled in the regular season. The Shockers lost by two to the Salukis at their place back on February 5th.
It appears that Wichita has more land mines to worry about especially with Illinois State and Northern Iowa as their potential next opponent. The Redbirds lost their first six MVC games before ripping off seven of their next eight. They’ve cooled off, but Jackie Carmichael and Tyler Brown represent a fantastic inside-outside combo. They were swept by Wichita State in the regular season.
Before the Redbirds can get to WSU, they have to beat Northern Iowa who is capable of a run themselves. They have won seven of their last nine and are led by Anthony James, Seth Tuttle and Jake Koch. This is a team with four seniors and a win over St. Mary’s. Either of them could knock off Wichita State who enters St. Louis with two straight losses.
Creighton will see either Evansville or Indiana State who have each shown flashes of brilliance. The Aces have won four straight and feature Colt Ryan who scores 20 points per game. Evansville crushed the Sycamores 84-68 in the last regular season game. ISU features Jake Odum and were once considered a prime bubble team. They have since fallen off having lost five of their last six.
All that aside, this should be the year when Arch Madness holds to relative form. I think we’ll see Creighton and Illinois State in the title game with Doug McDermott cutting down the nets once again.