Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Wichita State has made a very good case for being a #1 seed in the Big Dance, even if they haven’t played as tough a schedule as other college basketball superpowers. They’ve been dominating the teams they have been playing. And, if Gonzaga could get a #1 seed last year as a mid-major with a lesser record, it’s hard to deny Wichita State the same consideration. Particularly when this Wichita State team took out Gonzaga last year on their way to an Elite 8 appearance.
That being said, if Wichita State DOESN’T win the Missouri Valley tournament this week, naysayers will be able to suggest that they don’t deserve full honors. They couldn’t win “when it mattered.” And, any loss will be to an underdog far enough back in the Power Ratings that it’s going to hurt Wichita’s math. If the Shockers want to be a #1 seed in the Dance, they need to keep winning!
The Missouri Valley tournament begins Thursday Night with first round action featuring the four worst teams in the standings. Everyone else is waiting in the wings Friday for the quarterfinals. Wichita State will play in Friday’s opener against a tired team playing its second game in less than 24 hours. Here’s a quick look at the schedule, with all games being played in St. Louis.
THURSDAY’S FIRST ROUND
Drake (8) vs. Evansville (9)
Bradley (7) vs. Loyola (10)
Wichita State (1) vs. Drake/Evansville winner
Missouri State (4) vs. Illinois State (5)
Indiana State (2) vs. Bradley/Loyola winner
Northern Iowa (3) vs. Southern Illinois (6)
Winners of the first two quarterfinals
Winners of the second two quarterfinals
Championship game matching the semifinal winners
You know Wichita State is undefeated. Let’s see how the computers we’ve been using for seasons here in the NOTEBOOK for guidance rate them on a national scale…as well as everyone else in the MVC brackets.
Computer Rankings by Seed
1…Wichita State: #6 in Pomeroy, #15 in Sagarin
2…Indiana State: #108 in Pomeroy, #113 in Sagarin
3…Northern Iowa: #93 in Pomeroy, #96 in Sagarin
4…Missouri State: #152 in Pomeroy, #148 in Sagarin
5…Illinois State: #138 in Pomeroy, #149 in Sagarin
6…Southern Illinois: #162 in Pomeroy, #167 in Sagarin
7…Bradley: #205 in Pomeroy, #209 in Sagarin
8…Drake: #188 in Pomeroy, #176 in Sagarin
9…Evansville: #216 in Pomeroy, #211 in Sagarin
10…Loyola: #252 in Pomeroy, #250 in Sagarin
A few things of note here:
*First, Wichita State does NOT merit #1 seed status in the Dance according to college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy (who’d have them as a #2 seed) nor USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin (who’d have them way down as a #4 seed).
*Second, nobody else in this conference is anywhere near Dance caliber! Only Northern Iowa cracks the top 100. It usually takes top 50 to get at-large consideration for the NCAA’s. If Wichita State wins this weekend, they’ll be the only MVC playing in the Dance.
*Third, the seedings don’t line up perfectly with the computer assessments. That could be meaningful for handicappers who are trying to pick their spots with smart Las Vegas bets. Seeds are based on won-lost records, which are sometimes misleading. The computers are telling you that Northern Iowa is the “real” number two seed, that Illinois State might be the “real” #4 seed, and Drake may be the real #7 seed.
For those of you who like studying offensive and defensive breakdowns when assessing neutral court chess matches, here are Pomeroy’s ratings that account for schedule strength and pace.
Pomeroy’s Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Ranks By Seed
1…Wichita State: #13 on offense, #9 on defense
2…Indiana State: #176 on offense, #76 on defense
3…Northern Iowa: #32 on offense, #206 on defense
4…Missouri State: #121 on offense, #197 on defense
5…Illinois State: #201 on offense, #97 on defense
6…Southern Illinois: #127 on offense, #208 on defense
7…Bradley: #275 on offense, #123 on defense
8…Drake: #190 on offense, #203 on defense
9…Evansville: #220 on offense, #204 on defense
10…Loyola: #244 on offense, #229 on defense
Defense often rules the day in the postseason. It’s important to remember that Wichita State is playing great defense this year…and that Indiana State and Illinois State both rank in the top 100 defensively right now. That’s strong by the standards of this lesser conference. Northern Iowa’s strength is three-point shooting. That could give them a chance to make some waves if they can get hot in the semifinals and/or finals.
How has the market been doing with the MVC this season? Well, oddsmakers and sharps have been ridiculously slow in catching up to how truly strong Wichita State is.
Most Underrated ATS
Wichita State 21-6-1
The easiest betting strategy in the world this year is to back Wichita State every time they take the floor. Pure gold. Handicapping usually isn’t this easy! Will this value hold in a neutral court tournament though? Particularly with Wichita State knowing they’re already comfortably in the Dance…matched up against teams fighting to keep the dream alive?
Most Overrated ATS
Indiana State 11-17
Some ugly stories there. Indiana State is a #2 seed because of won-lost record, but they haven’t been playing to market expectations as a general rule. League newcomer Loyola was completely overmatched in a way that surprised oddsmakers from the get-go.
As we’ve been saying this week, JIM HURLEY will be picking his spots here and there in this week’s mid-major tourneys. You can purchase the final word each day right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.
Tournament previews continue Friday….and THE WINNING IS JUST BEGINNING here at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!