User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto Racing
Horses
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
MVU teams look to close gap with WSU

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Wichita State kept the Missouri Valley Conference in the spotlight last season with a 35-0 start, the best ever in Division I.

Advertisement
The Shockers did so at the expense of nine league rivals who didn't even come close to an NCAA tournament bid.

Wichita State went 21-0 against league opponents in 2013-14 and 18 of those victories were by at least 10 points. Though Wichita State gave the Valley a boost by earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, the constant discussion over its weak schedule sullied the Valley's reputation.

This offseason, everyone else is focused on closing the gap with the Shockers and restoring the league to national relevance.

''They're not backing up for any of us. We have to have some teams be able to click their heels a little bit and compete with them. They're the standard in the league by a mile,'' Bradley coach Geno Ford said of the Shockers. ''I actually think it's possible for a couple of teams to push them this year, which didn't happen a year ago. But until somebody does it, that's all wasted breath and conversation because it needs to happen or our league can't grow.''

Two years ago, Wichita State and Creighton engaged in a thrilling fight for the league title that stretched from January until March. The Bluejays then left for the new-look Big East, and many feared the Shockers wouldn't have anyone to push them in 2013-14 and beyond.

It was even worse than anyone could have imagined.

Indiana State, which finished second in the league, lost three times to the Shockers by an average of 13.7 points. As the league's only representative in the NIT, the Sycamores lost by 20 points at Arkansas.

Northern Iowa was the only other Valley team to finish over .500 in the league at 10-8, and the five teams in the bottom half of the conference - Southern Illinois, Bradley, Drake, Evansville and Loyola - finished below .500 overall.

The Valley, which had prided itself on its depth, is now full of teams working to simply be competitive with the powerhouse Shockers. .

''Wichita State has set a bar. And I can just tell you by seeing the coaches on the road and the level of recruiting that's going on, everybody is chasing that thing extremely hard,'' Loyola coach Porter Moses said. ''They set a bar of excellence...and that's healthy.''

The Valley's issues in 2013-14 could be blamed largely on inexperience, which means last season's youth could spearhead a revival this winter.

Four of the six players named first-team All-Missouri Valley will be back next season, including Evansville's D.J. Balentine and Northern Iowa's Seth Tuttle. Five different teams had players named to the All-Freshman team - none of them Shockers - and more than 70 percent of the Valley's overall scoring and rebounding is expected back this winter.

''I don't think there's any doubt there will be better teams in the league this year than last,'' Illinois State coach Dan Muller said. ''The bottom line was last year was a young year for the league and a down year.''

Wichita State will still likely be the overwhelming favorite next season, with reigning player of the year Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton all back. But departed star Cleanthony Early could become the rare Valley player to be a first-round NBA draft pick Thursday night, so replacing him won't be easy.

''I think it's pretty cyclical,'' Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. ''When I came in the league, we were certainly not on top. In fact, we were down there near the bottom.''

---

Connect with Luke Meredith at lmeredith(at)ap.org or www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Florida G Walker suffers torn ACL
Oklahoma AD to chair hoops committee
Pinson could bolster Tar Heels' defense
Bias to be inducted into Terps' HOF
Top official retiring after '15 season
Memphis adds Lawson to staff
No charges against two PC players
Big East adds Stu Jackson to office
Another moped arrest for Iowa hoops
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAABK College Basketball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2013 CBK SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
The Gold Sheet + 3952
Bill Marzano + 2405
Tony Stoffo + 2235
Last 7 Day Leaders
Handicapper Money
No Games Last 7 Days  
   
   
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
The Gold Sheet 57 %
The SportsBoss 56 %
Tony Stoffo 55 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
The Gold Sheet + 2810
Bruce Marshall + 2797
The Prez + 1048
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kyle Hunter + 3283
Antony Dinero + 1301
Tony Stoffo + 1265
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Marc Lawrence + 1600
The SportsBoss + 1422
Bruce Marshall + 1116
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!