Tournament likely doesn't change 1-bid status

March 7, 2011

Missouri State won its first Missouri Valley Conference title this season. That might mean zilch when NCAA bids are handed out.

Given its overall low profile, the Valley is likely to be a one-bid league for the fourth straight season. Indiana State, with a 95 RPI rating, is in after a 60-56 victory over the Bears on Sunday, and everybody else is just hoping.

Missouri State (25-8) has a 37 RPI and Wichita State, which lost in the semifinals to Indiana State, is next best at 59. Indiana State (20-13) is the only other conference school in the top 100 and could get as low as 13th or 14th.

Missouri State coach Cuonzo Martin acknowledged it would be a long, anxious week before bids are announced next Sunday. Backing off from his assertion on Saturday that the Bears deserved to be in the tournament, Martin said Sunday it would be ''hard to really say one way or the other.''


Winning the Valley for the first time guarantees a slot in the NIT.

''We're 25-8 and just the work we put in, I'm wondering is there a set criteria for getting in?'' Martin said. ''This is a mid-major plus league. I think we stack up against anybody win or lose.''

An expanded NCAA field with four more teams gives conference commissioner Doug Elgin at least a bit of optimism. Any optimism is tempered by the fact the Valley is 12th overall in the RPI, hurt by a lack of quality opponents.

In the long run, Indiana State profited from pre-conference losses to Notre Dame (9) and Purdue (8). Missouri State lost at Tennessee (32) and Oklahoma State (62) in the preseason.

''In the long run, have we done enough?'' Valley player of the year Kyle Weems said. ''It's going to be a long week for us, we've all got a sour taste in our mouths.

''We didn't want to let it get to the committee.''

Missouri State and Wichita State, which finished second in the regular season, appear to be NIT bound. Northern Iowa, which has lost seven of eight, might land in the CBI.

Wichita State played no top 100 schools in the preseason. Coach Gregg Marshall was realistic.

''I'm sure we'll be in some type of postseason play,'' Marshall said. ''Not the one we were after. Figure out where you go from there and when you start practicing again.''