|EDITOR’S CORNER: Any team can come out on top in the MVC|
|Written by Emily Warner, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Monday, 30 January 2012 13:24|
After a couple years of being a sports reporter and covering all different types of games, there are times when I have to try and suppress an eye roll as a coach or player gives some cliché quote along the lines of how any team can win on any given day.
But for women’s basketball in the Missouri Valley Conference, the sentiment couldn’t be more true.
Where to even begin?
A valley consists of ups and downs and the Missouri Valley Conference is no different.
Prior to this past weekend’s MVC action, Wichita State was leading the conference at 6-0 and riding a 10-game win streak. The Redbirds put an end to that, however, besting the Shockers 68-59. But while WSU rebounded two days later with a win over Indiana State. The ’Birds collapsed in the second half at Missouri State, to go into a three-way tie for second place with the Bears and Drake.
MSU is a good team and was picked to finish first in the Valley, plus they were playing on their home court. Those factors combined can make the ‘Birds’ loss to the Bears understandable and something to learn from.
MSU should know a thing or two about learning from losses as it garnered a loss against the Salukis on Jan. 19, ending Southern Illinois’ 24-game MVC losing streak. Yet, when the Redbirds defeated the Salukis on Dec. 30, they won by over a 20-point margin.
However, a week later the ’Birds fell to Indiana State and then defeated Bradley. Which was then followed a week later by Bradley defeating Indiana State. These examples show that this year in MVC play, truly any team can come out on top in any game.
Currently, the Shockers are ahead with an 8-1 conference record, but MSU, Northern Iowa and Illinois State are close behind, each with a 6-3 record. Drake and Creighton are 5-4 and Indiana State is 4-5, which means with all these teams so close, every game is really going to matter because a loss from one team and a win from another can quickly shuffle where each team stands in the Valley.
Admittedly, I’m partial to the fine university I attend, but its apparent that halfway through MVC competition, the Redbirds have been the most underestimated team in the Valley. That’s probably shot now since every team has seen each other once and knows what the competition is like. But the ’Birds do have an advantage heading into the second half of MVC play. After succumbing to Indiana State, Northern Iowa and Missouri State on the road, the Redbirds will have a home court advantage when they seek revenge on those teams. ISU will also play host to WSU, which is sure to be a tough rematch.
While every team is vying to be a contender for the MVC regular-season title and would be thrilled to achieve such an accomplishment, let’s be real, the dream of any college basketball team is to make it into the NCAA tournament. And a team’s best chance at getting a ticket to the big dance is to win the MVC tournament that is taking place March 8-11.
Last season, Northern Iowa cruised through Valley play while just picking up one loss (thanks to the ’Birds) and then proceeded to get through the MVC tourney with ease en route to an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
But if the way the first half of Valley play has gone is indicative of how tournament play will go, then the team that is definitely representing the MVC in the NCAA tournament is definitely unknown.