As we get pumped for the season opening game for the Jays, lets see what our Valley cohorts are up to this week:
- Southern Illinois, 2KSports Classic–We’ll start with the dogs as they are survived against California in the opening round of the 2KSports Classic in their Carbondale regional, 66-52. No, this is not California from the Pac-10, but D2 California from Pennsylvania. They were in the D2 Elite Eight last year, so they are no slouch but the team of newcomers look like they struggled in their first regular season game. Duke punched their ticket to New York tonight to wait for the winner of SIU and UMass in tomorrow’s regional final. I wonder which team Matty P will be going for. What I find interesting is that ESPN took the time to broadcast all of the other 2KSports regionals at Michigan, Duke and UCLA, but nothing at SIU. If you go to the trouble of going to 3 of the 4, why not the 4th one where probably the most competitve regional final will be in Carbondale. If Southern doesn’t win tomorrow night and make it to New York, they will not have a game until November 26th @ Western Kentucky. That is a long time to wait to play again.
- Bradley is still smarting a little bit from losing their last Exhibition game, but have to get things turned around to play Illinois-Chicago on Friday night. If you are lucky enough to live in Illinois, you can see this game on Lakeshore Public TV. Then they turn right around and play Florida on Sunday on ESPNU. This weekend will be a tough one and if they get an upset in Florida, then this team might be on the map and could be a huge confidence builder (that will also help support my prediction of them finishing 3rd in the Valley)
- Besides Creighton’s game against New Mexico on Sunday, you would think the other best matchup in the Valley to start the season this week will be Drake playing Butler on Saturday. With the history of Butler and the season Drake had last season, I am sort of surprised there wasn’t a bigger interest in broadcasting the game on a more national level. However, if you live in Iowa, Mediacom has the game, so look for the game on there. Butler lost all 5 starters from last season and picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Horizon League.
- Saturday night also gets Evansville started as they open up against Austin Peay. Austin Peay is in the top half of the Ohio Valley this year so it will be a good test to see if Evansville’s experienced starting 5 can win this one.
- OK, I’ve mentioned over and over how bad Illinois St. scheduled their non-conference this year. However, this is the only nice thing I will say about it all year-They are giving themselves a bit of a challenge to start the year on the road against Wright St. on Saturday. Wright St. has been picked by some to win the Horizon League this year, so this will be a good first test for a team who will probably not get a real challenge until they open conference play.
- Missouri St. makes a trip to Auburn on Friday. This will be the first chance for the conference to get a “BCS” win, but it is unlikely.
- Northern Iowa opens up against Denver from the Sun Belt conference Saturday afternoon. Denver finished 11-17 last season and is expected to finish in the middle of the pack of the 13-team league. What an ugly game last night in an exhibition game against Wayne St. where UNI won 44-27 The recap says the UNI put on a defensive clamping on Wayne St. by holding them to 27% shooting and 27 turnovers, but the Panthers didn’t do much better shooting only 29% from the field. but were 7-28 from 3 while Wayne was 2-19 from 3. That had to be a frustrating game. Nobody was in double figures.
- Wichita St. coach Gregg “Double G” Marshall said that the scrimmage a couple weeks ago against Kansas St. really opened up their eyes. So much for information about these scrimmages getting out. They start up their challenging gouging of season ticket holder home schedule on Sunday afternoon against bottom feeder Florida A& M from the MEAC. They follow it up against powerhouses UMKC and Centenary before hitting the Old Spice Classic.
- Indiana St. won’t even start the season until a week from tonight @ Northern Illinois as they will still be playing an exhibition game this Friday. They say Indiana St. won’t make progress until they are a fabric of Terre Haute life, but I think coach McKenna is doing his part for the basketball team being the fabric of Terra Haute with luncheons and other community things.
So everyone is off and going in the Valley. We’ll see what next week brings. Basketball is back. Woo Hoo!!!