World-Herald staff writer Steven Pivovar ranks the Missouri Valley men’s basketball teams. National RPI rankings from the NCAA.
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1. Creighton (24-7, 13-5, 36th): This week: Bradley-Drake winner. The Bluejays have won the title in three of their four previous Valley tournament appearances as the No. 1 seed.
2. Wichita State (24-7, 12-6, 40th): This week: Southern Illinois-Missouri State winner. The 91 points Shockers allowed against Creighton were the most in regulation game under coach Gregg Marshall.
3. Northern Iowa (18-13, 11-7, 75th): This week: Illinois State. The Panthers join Creighton as the only Valley teams to record nine or more league victories in each of the past 10 seasons.
4. Evansville (18-13, 10-8, 101st): This week: Indiana State. Colt Ryan ranks seventh in Valley history in scoring (2,173 points) and needs 64 to become the Purple Aces’ all-time leader.
5. Illinois State (17-14, 8-10, 123rd): This week: Northern Iowa. Tyler Brown came dangerously close to a dubious triple-double in ISU’s last game with 25 points, nine rebounds and nine turnovers.
6. Indiana State (17-13, 9-9, 79th): This week: Evansville. Once promising at-large résumé soured for Sycamores as they lost six of last nine, including an 0-4 finish in road games.
7. Drake (14-16, 7-11, 152nd): This week: Bradley. The league’s second-best 3-point shooting team has made just 25 percent of beyond-the-arc shots in two games against Braves.
8. Southern Ill. (14-16, 6-12, 179th): This week: Missouri State. Defense has keyed late surge for Salukis, who have allowed an average of 63 points in a 6-3 finish to the regular season.
9. Bradley (16-15, 7-11, 180th): This week: Drake. St. Louis’ location doesn’t bode well for Braves, who have lost their last 15 games played west of their home court in Peoria.
10. Missouri State (10-21, 7-11, 211th): This week: Southern Illinois. A bad combination for the Bears is ranking last in shooting as well as field-goal percentage defense over the league’s last nine games.