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Mid-Continent Notebook

March 2, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Mid-Continent Conference Notebook

by Matthew Moll

Parity Rules the Mid-Con

There is only one game left on the Mid-Con regular season schedule. But it’s a big one.

The Chicago State at Valparaiso will decide the top six seeds in the Mid-Con tourney that will be played March 6-9 at Kemper Arena in Kansas City.

If Chicago State wins there will be a five-way tie between Centenary, Chicago State, IUPUI, Oral Roberts, and Valpo. Tie breaker will be decided by head-to-head competition between all of those tied for first. If this were to happen IUPUI would earn the number-one seed by virtue of its 5-3 record against all other tied teams. Centenary, Chicago State, and Valpo hold 4-4 records against the remaining teams. Oral Roberts because of its 3-5 record would garner the number-five seed.

Centenary, Chicago State, and Valpo all hold 2-2 records against one another, thus forcing another source for a tie breaker. The next tie breaker is to compare Centenary, Chicago State, and Valpo’s records to the next highest seeds. The number five seed would be Oral Roberts in this case, which all three teams split their season series. Next would be to compare the records against the sixth seed, in this case UMKC. Again each team went 1-1. Leading to yet another tie breaker.

The final tie breaker would take into consideration the tied teams’ RPI according to Collegiate Basketball News. This policy was adopted after it was passed by the NCAA President’s Council in June of 2003. Under the new system through Sunday’s games the seeding would go as follows: number-two seed Centenary (RPI 175) and number-three seed Valparaiso (RPI 183).

Seeding in only simplified in as far as the number-one seed would be outrightly decided if Valpo were to defeat Chicago State. If Valpo were to win the seeding would go as follows: number-one Valpo, number-two IUPUI, number-three Centenary, number-four Oral Roberts, number-five UMKC, number-six Chicago State.

Southern Utah and Oakland are locked into their seventh and eighth seeds respectively.

Regardless of which team wins the final game of the Mid-Con regular season, tie breakers and regular season series will play a pivotal role in the final seeding.

Dome-court Advantage

Not even the King himself could stop the dome-inance Centenary has at home. The Golden Dome has not seen a Gent’s loss in 18 consecutive games dating back to last season. Over this span the Dome in Shreveport, LA has been defended eight straight times over Mid-Con foes and 13 straight home wins this past season.

Seventh year coach Kevin Johnson and his players will take this streak into next season as the Gent’s defeated Oral Roberts in their final home stand.

Durham Debacle

The bright lights and lights out jump shooting were too much for the Mid-Con leading Valparaiso Crusaders to handle as they were overmatched by the 4th ranked Duke Blue Devils.

Valpo was out of the sink before the tip-off as coaches and players turned toward different American flags during the Star Spangled Banner. Once the game started Duke picked apart the Valpo zone and built a 52-29 halftime lead, largely because of a 10 of 16 shooting from beyond the arc. Duke led by as many as 36 points in the second half as the Mid-Major over Top 5 upset never came to fruition as they Crusaders fell 97-63.

This marked the first game of a three-year agreement between the schools. Next season they will battle at the United Center in Chicago and will return to Durham in 2005-06.

Curse of King Tutt Cured

After extending his 25 or more points in scoring streak to eight games against Centenary last Thursday, which was the longest in NCAA Division I this season, Oral Roberts’ Ken Tutt’s string of blowing up on teams came to an end against Southern Utah. Tutt scored 14 points in the regular season finale.

Tutt’s run included a career high of 30 on Valentine’s Day against Western Illinois. During Tutt’s point explosion he earned national recognition and moved into second among freshman in scoring in the nation.

Tutt’s streak dated back to January 31 loss to UMKC when he scored 28 points. Tutt is averaging 21.0 ppg on the season.

Player of Week

UMKC’s Michael Watson and his fellow Kangaroos won both of their games last week and will carry that win streak to the conference tourney. Michael 10000-Wats-on averaged 24.5 ppg in the victories over Southern Utah and IUPUI.

Freshman/Newcomer of the Week

For the second week in a row Oral Roberts’ Caleb Green cannot be stopped. Green scored 25 points and had nine rebounds against Centenary and scored 29 points and cleaned 22 boards in a win over Southern Utah. Green leads the Mid-Con in double-doubles with 14.

Games of the Week

Six teams will be crossing their collective fingers as Chicago State and Valpo battle to decide the top six seeds in the tournament. Tonight 8:05 pm. (EDT)

Mid-Con Notes

Valparaiso Crusaders (14-12 overall, 10-5 Mid-Con)

Despite playing no league games this week Valpo still finds themselves in the hunt for the number one seed in the conference tournament. They at least clinched part of the Mid-Con title, their ninth in the last 10 years, thanks to losses by Centenary and IUPUI. The ‘Saders went 1 and 1 this week in non-conference bouts while their conference counterparts collided for Mid-Con kingship. Thursday night on ESPN Valpo could not stop the sharp-shooting Blue Devils. Dukies ended the game 15 of 26 from trey land in the 97-63 trouncing of Valpo. Kikas Gomes led the way for the Crusaders with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Homer Drew and company did manage to end their four game skid defeating IPFW 83-61. Sophomore Dan Oppland led the way with 18 points.

Up Next: With a win Tuesday over Chicago State there will be no need for tie breakers to decide the number-one seed.

Centenary Gents (16-11, 10-6)

The Gents were able to slow the soaring Eagles of Oral Roberts in dramatic fashion but were unable to clinch a share of the regular season title after being swept by Chicago State

Senior Andrew “The Wizard” Wisniewski led the Gentlemen with 26 points and the game winning three-point field goal as with four seconds left to cap his 22 point second half scoring performance. The Wiz ended his career at the Golden Dome with an 18 game win streak and drilling his last shot to win his last home appearance. The regular season finale was not quite as sweet for the Wiz and Co. Unable to ever establish themselves, Chicago State pulled away defeating the Gents 68-54. The Wiz led the Gents with 19 points. The foes will become friends if State can defeat Valpo and force a five-team tie.

Up Next: The waiting game. Then the conference tourney.

IUPUI Jaguars (19-10, 10-6)

IUPUI was another Mid-Con team last week that could not take control of the conference and decide their own destiny going 1-1 in conference games. The Jag’s also posted a non-conference win over Independent IPFW on Monday.

All five Jag’s starters scored in double-figures in the 75-61 win over Western Illinois. Senior Odell Bradley led all scorers with 18 points and also added 12 rebounds. Senior Matt Crenshaw pulled within six assists of the IUPUI career lead after posting six in the win. The Jags tried to ride senior Odell Bradley’s 30 point 10 rebound performance and his game tying 30-foot heave to send the game to and extra session, but instead fell to UMKC in overtime. The 73-68 loss came as the Jaguar’s could not stop Michael Watson and could not take control of the Mid-Con. The 68-65 win on Monday was IUPUI’s 19th of the season. Odell Bradley led the way with 28 points. IUPUI can now only wait for Chicago State to help them own the number-one seed.

Up Next: After relinquishing their Chicago State fan cards on Tuesday IUPUI will be looking to repeat as conference tourney champs.

Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (17-10, 10-6)

Same story different team.

The Golden Eagles saw their three-game win streak halted and their chance at Mid-Con supremacy circumvented. Centenary and The Wiz were unable to slow the freshman tandem of Ken Tutt and Caleb Green but did stop the Pretty Birdies handing them 71-68 loss. Tutt hit a jumper to tie the game at 68 and force the dramatic finish by senior Andrew Wisniewski. Tutt led the way with 26 points and Green contributed 25 as well as nine boards. Tutt’s scoring effort extended his streak of 25 plus to eight games which is a season high in NCAA Division I. ORU ended the regular season with a win at home over Southern Utah. Senior night was stolen by freshman forward Caleb “Glass is now Clean” Green, who scored 29 points and added a career high 22 rebounds. The 6’7″ Green became only the fifth player in school history to record a 20 point 20 rebound performance. Green leads the league with 14 double-doubles and recorded his 20 point 10 rebound performance for the 10th time this season. Tutt’s 25 or more outbursts came to an end with a 14 point performance.

Up Next: ORU will be cheering for a Valpo win so they are awarded a higher seed in the conference tourney.

Chicago State Cougars (11-18, 9-6)

Chicago State won their only game last week as they played spoiler for Centenary on senior night in Chicago. Junior Craig Franklin led the scoring effort with 21 points. Rubeen Perry added a double-double of 14 points and 11 boards while freshman Deji Akindele put up 12 points, eight boards, and swatted 5 shots.

With the win Chicago State makes a five team tie possible if they can get past current leader Valpo.

Up Next: Who made who, who plays Drew.

UMKC Kangaroos (14-13, 7-5)

The ‘Roos ended their regular season with two straight wins over Mid-Con opponents Southern Utah and IUPUI. Last Thursday’s 74-62 win over Southern Utah ended their home regular season. Michael Watson, playing his last home game in front of the Municipal Auditorium crowd, scored 31 points and became UMKC’s all-time leading three-point leader hitting on seven of his attempts from trey land. The ‘Roos also converted 20 Southern Utah turnovers into 28 points. The Kangaroos defeated IUPUI 73-68 in the overtime thriller. UMKC dashed IUPUI’s hopes of an outright Mid-Con regular season title in the road win. Junior center Carlton Aaron led the team with 19 points including the deciding basket in overtime. Watson added 18 points in the win.

Up Next: Either the five or six seed in the tourney.

Oakland Golden Grizzlies (13-16, 6-10)

The Grizz ended their season with two straight wins, one non-conference and another of the Mid-Con persuasion. Oakland led by as many as 28 points against the Mastodons of IPFW before pulling out the 88-77 win. Mike Helms led the Shiny Metal on the Periodic Table Bears with 25 points. Mid-Con’s Western Illinois had a poor first half and did not recover as OU won 88-59. Helms led the way with 32 points.

Up Next: Eight seed upset attempt.

Southern Utah Thunderbirds (10-17, 6-10)

Southern Utah stumbles into the conference tournament with two straight losses. The T’birds Thursday night, 74-62 loss to UMKC was highlighted by David Palmer’s 25 points and 44.4 percent shooting from the field. Southern could not stop Oral Roberts’ Caleb Green in the 84-73 loss. Despite a 32-28 halftime lead, capped by a 25-8 run, Southern Utah was simply more bird than they were thunder. David Palmer led SU with 20 points.

Up Next: The yearly two-seven upset (Ok so its five-12 and its in the big dance on the Mid-Con, so what, with the parity in this league anything can happen).

Western Illinois Leathernecks (1-15, 3-25)

The ‘Necks ended their season with 11 straight losses including two conference losses last week against both IUPUI and Oakland. Western was led by Anthony Lenoir with 15 points in the 75-61 loss. T.J. Gray and Bobby Carter led the Leather necks with 11 points in the 88-59 loss to Oakland.

Up Next: There is always next year.


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