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 (19-3, 8-2, 18th)
This week: at Northern Iowa. The Shockers’ shaky shooting catches up with them in Tuesday’s home loss to Indiana State that tightens the championship race.
2. Creighton (18-3, 7-2, 30th)
This week: Missouri State, Bradley. A 30-point win Sunday at Southern Illinois was the Bluejays' largest margin of victory in any Valley road game in program history.
3. Indiana State (14-7, 7-3, 50th)
This week: Drake. Ability to win close games is key to keeping the Sycamores in the race as they own victories by 1, 2, 4 and 8 points against Valley opponents.
4. Evansville (13-9, 6-4, 108th)
This week: at Missouri State. In the last 17 seasons, only 15 Valley players have seen more court time than the 3,873 minutes Colt Ryan has played in his career.
5. Bradley (13-9, 5-5, 168th)
This week: at Creighton. Lack of inside punch is hurting the Braves, who are averaging just 24 points in the paint in league play while shooting 42.3 percent on 2-point attempts.
6. Illinois State (12-10, 3-7, 132nd)
This week: Southern Illinois. Jackie Carmichael is the only Valley player close to averaging a double-double as he's second in the league in scoring (18.1) and first in rebounding (9.4).
7. Northern Iowa (11-11, 4-6, 103rd)
This week: Wichita State. Better results were expected from a veteran team led by a group of seniors that has combined to start 218 games.
8. Missouri State (6-15, 4-5, 225th)
This week: at Creighton, Evansville. Recruiting priority for the Bears is finding some shooters as they rank last in field-goal, 3-point and free-throw shooting.
9. Drake (9-11, 3-6, 158th)
This week: at Southern Illinois, Indiana State. One game after beating Creighton, the puzzling Bulldogs give up 78 points and lose to offensively challenged Missouri State.
10. Southern Illinois (8-12, 1-8, 202nd)
This week: Drake, at Illinois State. Perimeter shooters love facing the Salukis, who rank 333rd out of 345 Division I team in 3-point field-goal percentage defense.