Stick around or come back
Koch Arena will be the center of attention for the Missouri Valley Conference for roughly six hours on Saturday. The Creighton-Wichita State men’s game tips at 3 p.m., followed by the Creighton-WSU women’s game at 7:05.
The women’s game, in case it’s been overshadowed, is the game between two conference unbeatens. Creighton (12-3, 4-0 MVC) is on a four-game win streak. WSU (9-6, 3-0) has won 6 of 7.
The Bluejays may be the rarest of Valley women’s teams by March — a legitimate NCAA at-large candidate. They rank No. 25 in the NCAA’s power rankings (RPI), thanks to a schedule that ranks No. 33, according to warrennolan.com. They are 5-3 against the top 100, including wins over BYU, Nebraska and South Florida.
Warrennolan.com projects Creighton to finish with an RPI ranked No. 19. No Valley team has finished the season in the top 40 since Missouri State at No. 34 in 2004-05. The last team to finish in the top 30 is Drake, No. 21 in 2001-02.
With that as the background, it’s no wonder the MVC hasn’t produced an at-large team since that Drake team.
Saturday’s game matches the Valley’s best outside shooting team against its best perimeter defenders. The Shockers are holding opponents to 27.7-percent accuracy from behind the arc, one reason coach Jody Adams regards this group as a highlight of her five seasons at WSU..
“As it grows, then I think it can be a great defensive team and the best defensive team here,” Adams said. “We’ve held a lot of people down.”
Creighton leads the MVC in three-point shooting, making 38.1 percent. It is 139 of 365, the most threes made by any MVC team. The Bluejays made 16 of 37 in a 70-63 win over Evansville, with Ally Jensen (6 of 11) and Marissa Janning (4 of 12) leading the way.
“As a coach, you don’t want to become completely dependent on that, but, more than anything that’s probably who we are,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said.
Creighton hasn’t won the MVC title since 2003, when it tied Indiana State. WSU’s best finish came in 2000, when it was part of a three-way tie for second.
One to watch
In their own words
“They’re a very good, very versatile offensive team. They score in so many ways. You can defend them well and they still get points, not very many teams are like that,” — Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson, in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, after Tuesday’s 79-68 loss at Creighton.