Conference Catch-ups: The Missouri Valley


Favorite: Creighton

How can anyone vote against the Bluejays right now? Creighton is 10-1 heading into the start of league play, with the ‘1’ coming on the road against a better-than-you-think St. Joe’s team. The Bluejays have size up front and shooting on the perimeter, but more than anything they have the guy that is one of the current front runners for Player of the Year — National, not Missouri Valley — Doug McDermott. Creighton is going to be able to score this season, the question mark with this group lies on the defensive end of the floor: are they going to be able to get enough stops to win the bare-knuckle brawls that make up MVC conference games?

And-1: I would be remiss if I didn’t have Wichita State listed somewhere near favorite territory for the Valley. The Shockers — and not Creighton — are currently the highest ranked MVC team. Where Creighton does it with the scoring ability of McDermott, Wichita State thrives on their balance. Five players average double figures and a sixth sits at 9.4 ppg. Three more players average double-figures in minutes. Wichita State can hurt you in so many different ways, whether its the 31 points that Joe Ragland had in the win over UNLV or the six players that reached double-figures in a win over Tulsa, defenses aren’t going to be able to focus on slowing down one player on the Shockers. And that’s why they are so dangerous.

Biggest Surprise: Northern Iowa

Let’s forget, for a second, that UNI just lost to Ohio at home by 17 points. A loss to Ohio, as good as they are this season, at home by 17 points is a far cry from being a “good loss”. Because once you get past that game, you see that the Panthers have actually had a very strong non-conference season. they’ve won at Iowa State and Old Dominion. They beat Colorado State, Providence and Iowa. Their only loss on the season came during the 2am tip of Marathon Madness out in Moraga, CA, against St. Mary’s. Even when you factor in the loss to Ohio, its very difficult to ignore the kind of success that UNI has had early on this season. This wasn’t supposed to happen until next year, but with Anthony James and Jake Koch both playing at an all-league level, UNI is going to continue to win games.

Biggest Disappointment: Missouri State

Yeah, I know, its a bit unfair to call the Bears a disappointment this season given what they lost from last year’s team (literally everyone — players and coaches — other than Kyle Weems). And, to be honest, the fact that they are 7-5 in non-conference play is actually probably a good start for them considering. The issue, however, is that Missouri State could be in better shape. They lost a game in OT to West Virginia after leading by five with 45 seconds left in regulation. They lost games to Oklahoma State and Oral Roberts due to poor late-game execution. The biggest issue? That all of this has happened while Kyle Weems has played some of the worst basketball of his career. His shooting is down and his scoring is down, and while much of that can be explained by the fact that defenses are focusing on him, it only makes you wonder where the Bears would be right now if Weems was playing well.

Something left to prove: Indiana State

The Sycamores were a trendy sleeper pick in this league coming into the season, and that pick certainly hasn’t disappointed. Jake Odum has been a terrific leader of a balanced attack that has been good enough to go into Nashville and beat Vanderbilt. ISU is about as stereotypically Valley as you can get: they are undersized, they don’t rebound well on the offensive end of the floor but they pound the defensive glass, they don’t turn the ball over and they shoot the ball well from three. The problem is that they don’t really have a go-to scorer, which is something that could end up coming back to bite them late in the year. ISU will be competitive, but just how competitive is something that remains to be seen.

Who’s dancing?: Creighton, Wichita State, Northern Iowa

Wrong side of the bubble?: Missouri State, Indiana State

Player of the Year: Doug McDermott, Creighton


All-conference team:

POY: Doug McDermott, Creighton
G: Jake Odum, Indiana State
G: Joe Ragland, Wichita State
G: Colt Ryan, Evansville
G: Rayvonte Rice, Drake
F: Jake Koch, Northern Iowa

Power Rankings

1. Creighton
2. Wichita State
3. Northern Iowa
4. Indiana State
5. Missouri State
6. Illinois State
7. Drake
8. Evansville
9. Bradley
10. Southern Illinois

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Miller scores 23, No. 10 Maryland tops No. 13 Michigan 72-64

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Diamond Miller scored 23 points, and No. 10 Maryland closed the first quarter with a 13-2 run and led the rest of the way in a 72-64 victory over No. 13 Michigan on Thursday night.

Abby Meyers contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (17-4, 8-2), who won for the 10th time in 11 games. Lavender Briggs scored 14 points and Shyanne Sellers added 13.

Maryland gained a measure of revenge after losing twice to Michigan last season – including a 20-point rout in College Park.

Leigha Brown led the Wolverines with 16 points.

Michigan (16-5, 6-4) led 13-9 in the first quarter before a three-point play by Miller started Maryland’s big run. Briggs and Faith Masonius made 3-pointers during that stretch.

The Terps pushed the lead to 16 in the third quarter before the Wolverines were able to chip away. Miller sat for a bit with four fouls, and Michigan cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines still wasted too many possessions with turnovers to mount much of a comeback.

Michigan ended up with 24 turnovers, and Maryland had a 25-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

Miller fouled out with 2:19 remaining, but even after those two free throws, the Terps led 65-57 and had little trouble holding on.

Michigan lost for the second time in four days against a top-10 opponent. No. 6 Indiana beat the Wolverines 92-83 on Monday.


Michigan: Whether it was against Maryland’s press or in their half-court offense, the Wolverines turned the ball over too much to score consistently. This was a lower-scoring game than the loss to Indiana, but the margin ended up being similar.

Maryland: While Miller clearly led the way, the Terps had plenty of offensive contributors. They also held Michigan to 13 points below its season average entering the game.


The Wolverines have appeared in 48 straight AP polls, and although a two-loss week could certainly drop them, the quality of their opponents could save them from a substantial plunge.

Maryland is tied for 10th with an Iowa team that beat No. 2 Ohio State on Monday night. Now the Terps can boast an impressive victory of their own.


Michigan: The Wolverines play their third game of the week when they visit Minnesota on Sunday.

Maryland: The Terps host Penn State on Monday night.


Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.


Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.


Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.

No. 12 Iowa State holds on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

AMES, Iowa – Jaren Holmes matched his season high with 23 points as No. 12 Iowa State held on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76 on Tuesday night.

The Cyclones (15-4, 6-2 Big 12) moved into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with the Wildcats and Texas.

Gabe Kalscheur added 19 points for Iowa State. Osun Osunniyi finished with 16.

Markquis Nowell led Kansas State (17-3, 6-2) with 23 points.

A 3-pointer from Holmes gave Iowa State a 59-49 advantage with 8:12 remaining. Kansas State responded with a 10-1 run to trim the margin to 60-59.

Caleb Grill’s 3-pointer steadied the Cyclones and pushed the lead back to 63-59 with five minutes left.

Free throws by Osunniyi, Grill and Holmes sealed the victory in the final 24 seconds.

The first half featured eight lead changes and ended with Kansas State up 33-31.

A 3-pointer by Kalscheur ignited an early 9-0 run for the Cyclones and helped them build a 19-14 lead. Iowa State made just one of nine 3-point tries in the first 20 minutes.


Kansas State was trying to extend its best start to a season since 1961-62.

Iowa State improved to 11-0 at home. The Cyclones have not lost back-to-back games this season.


Kansas State hosts Florida on Saturday as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Iowa State travels to Missouri on Saturday.

Georgetown snaps 29-game conference losing streak

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WASHINGTON – Primo Spears scored 21 points and Georgetown snapped a 29-game conference losing streak with an 81-76 victory over DePaul on Tuesday night.

Georgetown (6-15, 1-9) won its first Big East game since March 13, 2021, ending the longest skid in the history of the conference. The Hoyas also ended a 10-game losing streak this season.

Spears also contributed six assists for the Hoyas. Akok Akok scored 12 points and added six rebounds and four blocks and Brandon Murray recorded 12 points.

Umoja Gibson led the Blue Demons (9-12, 3-7) in scoring, finishing with 24 points, four assists and three steals. Javan Johnson added 13 points.

Spears scored nine points in the first half and Georgetown went into the break trailing 37-36. Georgetown used a 10-0 run in the second half to build a 12-point lead at 75-63 with 1:39 remaining.

Nance scores 21 as North Carolina survives Syracuse, 72-68

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Pete Nance scored 21 points, capped by a dunk with 19 seconds left that put North Carolina in front for good as the Tar Heels pulled out a hard-fought, 72-68 battle with Syracuse on Tuesday night.

Joe Girard hit from beyond the arc to put Syracuse up, 68-66 with 1:28 left, but after Nance hit the first of two free throws to get North Carolina within one, he missed the second free throw and in the scramble to gather in the rebound, the ball caromed toward the end line and Girard dove to save it. Instead, he flicked the ball right to Nance, who dunked for the lead.

Judah Mintz tried to drive the lane for a go-ahead layup but was called for an offensive foul that was upgraded to a flagrant foul. North Carolina took possession and Caleb Love converted three straight free throws to put the game away.

Armando Bacot scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds with four assists for North Carolina (15-6, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Love finished with 15 points and five assists.

Girard hit 4 of 9 from beyond the arc and finished with 18 points to lead Syracuse (13-8, 6-4). Mintz scored 17 points and had three steals and Chris Bell hit 3 of 5 from deep and finished with 15 points.

North Carolina has a week off before playing host to Pitt on Feb. 1. Syracuse plays at Virginia Tech on Saturday.