Championship Week Preview- Missouri Valley, NEC
MISSOURI VALLEY PREVIEW
Locks- Northern Iowa
Bubble- Wichita State– Has to reach Title Game to have a chance.
3 Players to Watch
Osiris Eldridge (Illinois State)- His shooting range is limitless, one of the most exciting players to watch in the NCAA period! Just watch the 2nd half of last years MVC Final if you don’t believe me. Led league in scoring at a mark of 15.9 ppg. Also a solid individual defender.
Adam Koch (Northern Iowa)- Named player of the year although he wasn’t top 10 in the league in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks or steals.
Clevin Hannah (Wichita State)- Excellent shooter, 2nd in 3pt % (43.1%) and 1st in free throw % (90.4%) A solid point guard, 2nd in assists (4.9 apg).
Projected Championship Game- 1. Northern Iowa (25-4) (15-3) vs 3. Illinois State (21-9) (11-7)
Northern Iowa will try to repeat as Conference Champions after defeating Illinois State last season in the title game. It was a fight, Northern Iowa prevailed in overtime 60-57.
The Panthers. as a team, are very sound fundamentally. They play excellent defense, holding their opponents to 55.3 ppg, and a 41% fg percentage. Their backcourt consists of Kwadzo Ahelegbe and Ali Faroukmanesh. Ahelegbe distributes the ball well, and Faroukmanesh can split the strings from the outside. Adam Koch is their leading scoring, and Jordan Eglseder is a mamouth 7’0 center.
Illinois State is finally trying to climb the final hurdle in the Missouri Valley Tournament. Drake blew them out in the title game two years ago. Last season they lost a heartbreaker to Northern Iowa.
The Redbirds remind me of what Cleveland State endured. In 2008, Cleveland State lost to Butler in the Horizon League Championship Game. Last season, led by senior J’Nathan Bullock, Cleveland State got their revenge beating Butler in the Horizon League Title Game. Finally, they were able to dance. As a 13 seed, they beat 4 seed Wake Forest in the first round.
Ala Cleveland State, Illinois State knows the only way they’re getting in to the dance is by winning the conference tourney. They are led by 3 seniors, Osiris Eldridge, center Dimma Odiakosa and guard Lloyd Phillips. Odiakosa led the league in rebounding (8.8 rpg) and field goal percentage (62.5%). He finished 2nd in the Player of the Year Standings.
Prediction- Illinois State, I’m going with the upset here. The Redbirds have waited a full year to get revenge and finally, get a chance to play in the tournament. If Eldridge can get hot, there’s no reason why Illinois State can’t cut down the nets in St. Louis.
Projected NCAA Tournament Seeds
Northern Iowa (7)
Illinois State (13)
3 Players to Watch
Justin Rutty (Quinnipiac)- Averages a double-double (15.0 ppg, 10.8 rpg) Rebound average is 13th nationally.
James Feldeine (Quinnipiac)- NEC’s 4th leading scorer (17.3 ppg). He became the first player in 2 years to record a triple-double. Against Monmouth, Feldeine had 19 pts, 10 rebs and 11 assts.
Jeremy Goode (Mt. St. Mary’s)- 2nd on the all-time NEC assists list with 599.
Projected Championship Game- 1. Quinnipiac (21-8) (15-3) vs 2. Robert Morris (20-11) (15-3)
As the number 1 seed in the NEC, Quinnipiac will have home court advantage throughout the tournament. They are undefeated at home (12-0) this season.
Quinnipiac gets it done with their two forwards, Rutty and Feldeine. The Bobcats led the league in field goal percentage (45.0%). They dominate on the glass, outrebounding opponents by 9.6 rebounds per game.
Robert Morris will try to repeat as NEC Champs. This feat hasn’t been accomplished since 1993-1994, when Rider won back to back titles. The Colonials have a balance scoring attack, 8 players average over 5.0 points per game. Rob Robinson is the leader.
Prediction– Quinnipiac, They’re undefeated at home and really get after it on the glass.
Projected NCAA Tournament Seed– Quinnipiac (16)
TOURNAMENT BRACKET- http://www.northeastconference.org/Pdfs/mbball/2010/3/3/NECbracket-no_bleed.pdf