Indiana State (1-8) vs. DePauw (5-3)
Hulman Center; Terre Haute, Indiana
The Sycamores have had a rough go at it this season, posting only one victory. They look for that elusive second win tonight as they play host to Division III DePauw University
. The Sycs are the Tigers’ first Division I opponent since a 69-36 loss to Northwestern in 2005.
Feasting on these felines should be a good confidence builder for Kevin McKenna’s team as ISU heads into the MVC schedule, which starts for them with a possible upset bid against Northern Iowa on December 28.
The Sycs are coming off a tough game against Purdue
, and they really need a game to work out a lot of kinks and mental errors that have kept them from closing out games this season. As I have discussed in the past, this team has shown the desire and a willingness to win, but seem to lack the right pieces to get it done so far. With Harry Marshall back on the active roster
and pouring in double-figures in scoring each night, they can start to solidify the right rotations and combinations to take care of some of those problems.
I look for ISU to enter the conference schedule 3-8, with a third win coming later this month over IUPUI. But that is another discussion for another time.
~ Dance Cam Guy
---Drake (8-3) vs. Iowa (9-2)
Knapp Center; Des Moines, Iowa
A white-out is set for today’s game between the visiting Hawkeyes of Iowa and the host Drake Bulldogs. But it isn’t the kind of organized donning of white t-shirts most sports fans imagine when they hear the words “white-out.” Rather, the Hawkeye State was drilled with yet another batch of bad weather, with snow and ice blanketing the roads in and around the Des Moines area.
Such conditions likely won’t stop Drake fans from gathering in anticipation of sweeping the school’s two BCS-conference schools for the second straight year. After posting a comeback victory at Iowa State a few weeks ago, Mark Phelps’ Bulldogs look for their third consecutive win over Iowa.
Since 1980, these two teams have played 27 times. Iowa has won 25 times, and Drake twice. Those two victories came in 2006 (75-59 in Des Moines) and last season (56-51 in Iowa City). Josh Young wasn’t a factor as a freshman in ’06; he didn’t score. Last season, he poured in 14 points and led the Bulldogs to their first win in Iowa City in 40 years
. As a junior, he leads the MVC in scoring (17.1 points per game) and is arguably the most valuable player on any team in the conference.
Iowa comes into their final State Title game with wins against Northern Iowa and Iowa State. And they come into the game with perhaps their leading scorer back on the court. Anthony Tucker
(13 ppg) is practicing and might play, says coach Todd Lickliter
. Tucker’s been out because of an underage drinking incident, but could take the floor against the Bulldogs. Another freshman, Matt Gatens, adds 10.6 ppg for Iowa. As a local product of Iowa City, these Big Four games mean a lot to his especially.
It should be a packed house for this rivalry game. Too bad the same can’t be said about the games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena
~ Creighton Otter
---Southern Illinois (5-6) vs. St. Mary’s (8-1)
Conseco Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, Indiana
These two mid-major powers square off in the Indiana Pacers’ Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis as part of the John Wooden Tradition
. The Gaels are looking forward to avenging a 71-56 loss last year in Carbondale.
The Salukis won at Northern Illinois in their last game, but it has been a tough stretch for SIU as of late, losing five of seven. Against NIU they shot 59% from the field. Carlton Fay avoided foul trouble
and got back on track leading the team with 14 points. Freshman Kevin Dillard came off the bench to score 12.
St. Mary's is riding a five-game winning streak. They are coming off a road win, as well, beating Oregon 78-73. They have the West Coast Conference's leading scorer in Patrick “Patty” Mills
(20 ppg). He is on the Naismith Top-50 list and it regarded as one of the best young basketball players in the world. He was the leader of the Australian National Team in the Beijing Olympics.
But the Gaels are hardly a one-man show. Diamon Simpson averages a double-double
, 12 points and 11 rebounds per game. And when they score 70 or more points as a team they are 7-0 on the year.
Saluki fans will need to make this a pseudo-home game and fill the Fieldhouse to get a win against St. Mary’s like last year.
---Wichita State (4-5) vs. Northern Arizona (3-6)
Koch Arena; Wichita, Kansas
The Shockers have been busy taking finals. And putting their feelings on Facebook
. And recruiting two-sport stars that once considered Creighton before heading out west to Arizona State
. And trying to improve on their 64.1 points per game average (ranking them 260th in the nation).
It has been 8 days since WSU beat up on Gardner-Webb at Koch Arena, and Greggggggg Marshall’s Shox have two home games in the next three days to prepare them for their MVC opener in Omaha on December 28.
They take on the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona. Do they have Lumberjacks in northern Arizona? What they do have is a player named Zarko Comagic
. What a great name. He’s a senior forward from Serbia who scores 12 points and pulls down 5 rebounds per game. And he’s about to meet an immovable (and somewhat emotional) force named Ramon Clemente
(7 ppg; 9 rpg). Watch out, Zarko! Mr. Clemente spent some time venting on Facebook, and I’d bet he will hit the boards pretty hard today. That would spell trouble for anyone — Zarko or not — looking to pull some rebounds from the hands of Clemente.
The Lumberjacks aren’t very good. The Shox should win this easily. ZARKO!
~ Creighton Otter
---Bradley (5-4) at Wisconsin-Milwaukee (5-5)
U.S. Cellular Arena; Milwaukee, Wisconsin
In a return game of the 2008 BracketBuster series, the Braves will travel to Milwaukee where they hope for similar results, perhaps another 84-72 victory
. Bradley enters the game 5-4 on the season after a victory over Southeast Missouri State last Sunday
With only two games left in the non-conference schedule before their showdown against Southern Illinois, Bradley is still searching for a consistent offensive output. Theron Wilson (13 ppg), Dodie Dunson (12 ppg), and Sam Maniscalco (11 ppg) lead the Braves attack, but they still really miss the output on both ends of the floor by Andrew Warren. He’s still out with a stress fracture in his foot, and Jim Les is gathering more information before making a decision about when – or if – Warren will come back this season. He recently went to the hospital
, but it wasn’t for his foot.
The Braves have shown spurts of offensive success and have also shown an ability to play up to tough opponents. This game in particular should be a good test for the Braves, as both schools are familiar with each other following last year’s showdown. The Braves will not have as much fire power as last season but should be able to hold their own.
~ Dance Cam Guy
---Evansville (7-2) vs. North Carolina A&T (5-5)
Roberts Stadium; Evansville, Indiana
Luckily for Evansville, this North Carolina school is not one its players or fans should be intimidated or afraid of. The Purple Aces host the Aggies of North Carolina A&T, but EU can’t afford a let down after coming home from Chapel Hill; this will be their last tune up before Valley play begins.
Thursday, in front of a national audience, the Purple Aces were defeated by North Carolina. Not a total shocker. They still managed to score 73 against the #1 team in the nation on the road, an impressive feat in my mind. After being tied 18-18, UNC went on a 23-6 run to take control of the game. Shy Ely lead all scorers with 23. Look for Ely to get at least 12 points today and join Evansville's 1,000-point club.
The Aggies also played Thursday night and lost at Tulane. And much like the winter storm that preceded them, they get to travel hundreds of miles north into the middle of the Midwest to take on the Purple Aces. Robert Johnson had 16 points against the Green Wave and Tavarus Alston added 12 points. Former Louisville player (from the early 1980's) Jerry Eaves coaches the Aggies. The former NBA player is helping them become a contender in the MEAC.
---Illinois State (10-0) vs. Illinois-Chicago (7-2)
Redbird Arena; Normal, Illinois
The Redbirds will welcome something new to their non-conference schedule today — a team with a winning record! ISU hosts the Flames of Illinois-Chicago, a team that beat Northern Iowa and lost to Bradley. With a strength of schedule of #330 right now, the Redbirds need all of the plus-.500 opponents they can get. And welcoming one to Redbird Arena gives ISU a decided advantage.
Illinois State is coming off two of their closest games of the year; a 76-70 win over Morehead State
and a 72-69 win at Central Michigan
, during which they trailed at halftime. If the Redbirds thought those teams were tough, they better get ready for an UIC squad that has put together a nice little resume 9 games into the season.
In addition to the aforementioned win against UNI (not really a great win by any stretch of the imagination), the Flames have victories against Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. Led by Josh Mayo (no relation to O.J.) and his 20.6 ppg and a Woodfox-esque 51% from 3-point range, the Flames will be a tough fire to put out. UIC is a well-rounded squad, with three players averaging double figures in scoring. They also feature a solid big man, Scott VanderMeer, a 7-footer who scores 14 points and grabs 9 rebounds per game.
VanderMeer and the rest of the Flames will be a true test for an Illinois State team short on those in their schedule. They can’t afford to look past UIC in anticipation of the Valley schedule, lest they be burnt.
~ Dance Cam Guy
---Missouri State (5-3) vs. Norfolk St. (1-6)
JQH Arena; Springfield, Missouri
Missouri State hosts the Basketball Traveler’s Tip-Off Tournament, a cupcake round-robin, this weekend, bringing the likes of Cal-Irvine, Middle Tennessee State, and Norfolk St. to Springfield. UCI has 1 win, NSU has 1 win, and MTSU has 4 wins. Yuck.
I hope those teams brought some rain gear, because the new JQH Arena suffered some water damage this week
. And although no water made it to the court, Cuonzo Martin’s offense has looked like it is treading water most of the season so far. The Bears average 60 points per game, good (or bad) for 304th in the nation. Again, yuck.
Yet one-third of the way into the season, MSU’s RPI is nearly the same as that paltry scoring average; at 59, the Bears hold the Valley’s best RPI ranking. It could probably have something to do with the 57.5 points they allow each game, which ranks 18th in the country heading into the weekend.
It is aggressiveness on offense and defense that coach Cuonzo Martin likes
, and it is the energy on the defensive end that has the Bears positioned for three games they should win this weekend, a set of games that starts when they host the Spartans of Norfolk State. NSU is led by senior guard Michael Deloach, who averages 20.3 points per game (34th nationally) and grabs 5 rebounds per game, too. Also a threat is Corey Lyons, a 6-4 guard who pours in 11 ppg.
And starting tonight, Chris Cooks and the other Bears add some help to their bench. Will Creekmore starts his MSU career after transferring from Boston University and sitting out the first semester. The 6-9, 240 lbs. center from Tulsa will add rebounding and defense off the bench; he’ll fit right in with his Bears teammates, then.
~ Creighton Otter