We’re underway in St. Louis with the play-in games. We all know things don’t really get started until Friday’s quarterfinals. Here’s a quick read one each of the top six teams who endured media questioning on Thursday.
No. 1 Northern Iowa – The Panthers shot 31.5 percent from three-point range in MVC games. They outscored opponents 256-174 from the line.“We’ve gone through three games in three days and come out on top of it,” UNI senior Adam Koch said. “I guess that is the biggest thing, the confidence. We realize it will be tough to do that again this year.”No. 2 Wichita State - The Shockers lead the MVC in rebound margin at plus-5.2.“We’re just trying to focus on what we’ve got to do to be playing on Sunday,” forward J.T. Durley said.No. 3 Illinois State - Center Dinma Odiakosa has scored in double figures in 12 straight games and 14 of the past 15. He averaged 21 points and 10.5 rebounds against quarterfinal opponent Indiana State.“People kind of assume that we’re going to (play in the title game again) automatically,” guard Osiris Eldridge said. “But as players, we know how hard it is to keep repeating that and to get back to that same spot. We can’t listen to that type of stuff.”No. 4 Creighton - Coach Dana Altman is 15-3 against Bradley coach Jim Les, Friday’s quarterfinal opponent.“I think we’ve been having better leadership from the seniors and juniors,” guard Cavel Witter said. “We came close as a team. Not having an attitude on the bench. We’re just focused right now on winning. It doesn’t matter who plays more or gets the glory.”No. 5 Bradley - The Braves have never won an MVC Tournament away from Peoria. Their titles came in 1980 and 1988 at their home arenas.“Conference teams know what each other does,” Bradley guard Sam Maniscalco said. “And I think it’s got to be more precise and execute better because of that. The (season) is split up in three different seasons, the non-conference season being the first one, conference season being the second one and post-season being a third one. And each time you have to kind of bring up your level of focus.”No. 6 Indiana State - The Sycamores avoided the play-in round for the first time since 2001.“I think it’s a baby step in the right direction for our program,” coach Kevin McKenna said. “We haven’t conquered anything yet. We still finished in the middle of the pack, which is an accomplishment in itself based on where we’ve been.”