World-Herald staff writer Steven Pivovar ranks the Missouri Valley men's basketball teams (with national RPI rankings from NCAA.com).
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1. Wichita State, 17-2, 6-1, 15th
This week: at Missouri State, Bradley. Rugged Carl Hall hardly is the most skilled player in the league, but his value to the Shockers can't be understated.
2. Creighton, 17-2, 6-1, 22nd
This week: at Drake, at Southern Illinois. The Bluejays have shot at becoming first team since Northern Arizona (1999) to lead nation in field-goal and 3-point field-goal percentage.
3. Indiana State, 12-6, 5-2, 47th
This week: at Illinois State, Northern Iowa. The aggressive Sycamores have made more free throws in seven Valley games than all but two league teams have attempted.
4. Evansville, 11-8, 4-3, 105th
This week: Bradley, at Illinois State. Of the 481 points the Purple Aces have scored in league play, the team's four seniors have accounted for 342 of them (71.1 percent).
5. Northern Iowa, 10-9, 3-4, 86th
This week: Southern Illinois, at Indiana State. A big gap between good and bad for the Panthers, who are averaging 81 points in 10 wins and 56 points in nine losses.
6. Bradley, 12-7, 4-3, 168th
This week: at Evansville, at Wichita State. The Braves already have doubled last season's Valley win total (two) and are close to doing the same in total victories (seven).
7. Illinois State, 10-9, 1-6, 149th
This week: Indiana State, Evansville. After needing seven games to get their first league win, the Redbirds have a chance to juggle the standings this week.
8. Missouri State, 5-14, 3-4, 245th
This week: Wichita State, Drake. Coach Paul Lusk has used 10 different starting lineups this season as his search for offensive consistency continues.
9. Drake, 8-10, 2-5, 166th
This week: Creighton, at Missouri State. Shoring up a defense that ranks 313th in the nation is a priority if the Bulldogs want to have chance to make a second-half run.
10. Southern Illinois, 8-10, 1-6, 197th
This week: at Northern Iowa, Creighton. Barry Hinson's team ranks eighth, ninth or last in 13 of the 21 major statistical categories charted by the league.