Fred VanVleet, Ka'Darryl Bell

2014 Missouri Valley Tournament Preview: It’s all Wichita

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source: AP

Just our luck, right?

The year that Wichita State just so happens to be coming off of a trip to the Final Four, the season where they just so happen to play like a National Title contender for the first four months of the season also happens to be the year that Creighton leaves the Valley for the Big East.

The teams the Bluejays left behind?

Well, outside of the Shockers, there really isn’t all that much there. In fact, I don’t think that it’s crazy to say that this is as down as the Valley has been in at least a decade, which may make it seem like it should be a cakewalk for Gregg Marshall’s club to take home a title they haven’t won since 1987. They’re playing for something much bigger than an automatic bid: an undefeated season as a No. 1 seed.

That’s a long way from a guarantee, however.

There’s a reason they call it Arch Madness.

(MORE: Browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

The Bracket

When: March 6-9

Where: Scottrade Center, St. Louis

Final: March 9, 1:05 p.m. (CBS)

Favorite: Wichita State

The Shockers are one of the best teams in the country, let alone the Valley. They have the three leading contenders for Conference Player of the Year: Ron Baker, Cleanthony Early and Fred Van Vleet, who actually won the award. They’re awesome.

And if they lose?: … Wichita State?

Yeah, they’re that good. All kidding aside, the second best team in this league is Indiana State, a group that has made a run through Arch Madness before and is led by one of the league’s best point guards in Jake Odum. The Sycamores have also picked up a win at Notre Dame already this season.


  • Northern Iowa: UNI finished in third place in the Valley this season, having won five of their last six games. That includes a win at Indiana State to close out the regular season.
  • Southern Illinois: The Salukis started the season 4-11, but they have turned things around in league play. They won three of their last four and seven of their last ten games.


  • Jake Odum, Indiana State: Odum is one of the best mid-major point guards in the country, averaging 13.0 points and 4.6 assists.
  • Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa: Tuttle might be the best front court player in the conference. He averaged 15.4 points and 7.7 boards.
  • Desmar Jackson, Southern Illinois: Jackson averaged 18.6 points, 5.5 boards, 2.4 steals and 2.1 assists for the Salukis.
  • D.J. Balentine, Evansville: Evansville was just 6-12 in the Valley this season, but Balentine averaged 22.3 points and 4.3 assists.

CBT Prediction: Wichita State over Indiana State

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.

LSU looking into starting lineup options

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - MARCH 7:  Head Coach Johnny Jones of the LSU Tigers watches his team play during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on March 7, 2015 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 81-78.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.

While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.

Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?

Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.

Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.