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No surprise: Creighton picked to win Missouri Valley

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In the least surprising news of the day, Creighton was picked to win the Missouri Valley Conference at the league’s media day on Monday.

The Bluejays picked up 38 of a possible 40 votes, the other two going to Illinois State, who were picked to finish second. In order, Northern Iowa, Wichita State, Evansville, Drake, Indiana State, Missouri State, Bradley and Southern Illinois round out the voting.

Seems like a pretty close match to what we at CBT on NBC had in our Valley preview. The only huge difference being the discrepancy being the placement of Bradley. Sounds like the guy who wrote that preview for NBC might be an idiot. Or not. Who knows. Though I firmly believe the Braves have way too much coming back compared to the talent of the bottom-tier teams in the league, to finish in the basement.

Doug McDermott was another non-shocker, being tabbed as the preseason player of the year by the media. Along with McDermott, Colt Ryan of Evansville, Jackie Carmichael of Illinois State, Jake Odum of Indiana State and Ben Simons of Drake were selected to the preseason all-conference team. Four players were named honorable mention, Greg Echenique of Creighton, Anthony James and Seth Tuttle of Northern Iowa and Carl Hall of Wichita State.

Tuttle is a puzzling non-pick for the all-conference. The MVC Freshman of the Year from last season fills up stat sheets and should be a focal point in Ben Jacobson’s offense. Though it’d be incredibly tough to pick which of the five players on the all-conference team to take off. Guess that’s the whole point of the honorable mention list.

Illinois State has a lot with which new coach Dan Muller can work with, including only one true freshman, which means everyone knows the system. Though someone will have to step in and fill the void left by transfer Nic Moore. Also, look out for Southern Illinois to be a better-than-average team. There was a lot of talent that was being relegated to role-player-type action behind Mamadou Seck, but now guys like Dantiel Daniels and Jeff Early can expand their games with Seck gone.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Akron reveals special bobble heads for LeBron, high school teammates

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When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.

LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.

Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).

All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.

NEW PODCAST: Indiana, Cal, troublesome trends and a weekend preview

California's Jabari Bird celebrates a score against Oregon in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.

Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.