World-Herald staff writer Steven Pivovar ranks the Missouri Valley men's basketball teams (with national RPI rankings from NCAA.com).
* * *
1. Creighton (17-1, 6-0, 19th)
This week: at Wichita State. The Bluejays' outside marksmanship draws raves, but the team also ranks second nationally in field-goal percentage inside the arc (.569).
2. Wichita State (15-2, 4-1, 22nd)
This week: Illinois State, Creighton. The Shockers can't afford to be as sloppy with the basketball as they were against Evansville, which scored 27 points off 22 turnovers.
3. Evansville (11-6, 4-1, 78th)
This week: at Drake, at Indiana State. An upset of Wichita State helps the scrappy Purple Aces get off to their best start in league play since the 1999-2000 season.
4. Indiana State (10-6, 3-2, 42nd)
This week: Missouri State, Evansville. The Sycamores must avoid slipups like the one they had at Southern Illinois if they want to stay in at-large conversations.
5. Northern Iowa (9-9, 2-4, 100th)
This week: Drake. Versatile Jake Koch is on track to join Kyle Weems as the only Valley players with 500 points, 500 rebounds, 100 3-pointers, 100 assists, 100 blocks and 100 steals.
6. Bradley (11-7, 3-3, 180th)
This week: Missouri State. Dyricus Simms-Edwards and Walt Lemon Jr. rank second nationally for most steals by a pair of teammates at 5.65 per game.
7. Missouri State (5-12, 3-2, 238th)
This week: at Indiana State, at Bradley. The Bears rank 300th or higher (out of 345 teams) in seven key statistical categories charted by the NCAA.
8. Drake (7-9, 1-4, 181st)
This week: Evansville, at Northern Iowa. Making 10 of 24 3-point shots in win over Illinois State is a good sign for a team that was mired in a shooting slump.
9. Illinois State (9-8, 0-5, 164th)
This week: at Wichita State, at Southern Illinois. A team that started the season with NCAA hopes is now facing long odds just to finish in the upper division of the league.
10. Southern Illinois (8-9, 1-5, 183rd)
This week: Illinois State. Although still hindered by an ankle injury, 6-5 forward Dantiel Daniels gives the undersized lineup a much-needed post presence.