Missouri Valley might receive only 1 NCAA bid Print
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Sunday, 08 March 2009 21:35
NCAAB Headline News


 ST. LOUIS (AP) -Welcome to Doug Elgin's worst week of the year.
The Missouri Valley Conference commissioner is resigned to the likelihood that for the second straight year he'll have one representative in the NCAA tournament.
Northern Iowa (23-10) is prepared to go it alone after beating Illinois State 60-57 in overtime for the conference tournament championship Sunday.
The conference is also campaigning for Creighton, which shared the regular-season title with the Panthers and has a league-best RPI of 39. For that to happen, the league must hope for a minimum number of upsets in other conference tournaments.
It was perhaps a telling sign that Creighton coach Dana Altman declined to campaign for his team after a 73-49 loss to Illinois State in the semifinals. The Bluejays (26-7) had won 11 straight before that dud.
``It's miserable,'' Elgin said. ``You stress over it. I've been texting colleagues on the cell phone already. It's a rough week, with the fate or your teams in the hands of others.''
Before the conference final, the league released research that showed only seven teams with 26 wins did not make the NCAA tournament - none from conferences ranked in the top 10 in the country or with RPIs 64 or lower. The Valley is ranked ninth.
Three 26-win teams did not make the NCAA field last year - Stephen F. Austin (26-5), IUPUI (26-7) and Robert Morris (26-7), according to the Valley research. Stephen F. Austin had a 64 RPI in a 17th-ranked league, IUPUI had a 69 RPI in a 22nd-ranked league and Robert Morris had a 135 RPI in a 24th-ranked league.
Illinois State, which hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1998, had a respectable 45 RPI before Sunday's final. What hurt the Redbirds is a non-conference schedule ranked 176th that resulted in an inflated 14-0 start.
Creighton was 9-5 against the RPI's top 100, and 8-4 on the road.
``I think Creighton's resume is significant - sufficiently strong for them to get into the conversation - and that's all you can ask,'' Elgin said. ``I'm not sure what more they could have done. They could have won more games, obviously, but I think they have to be in the conversation.''
Elgin, a past member of the NCAA selection committee, said he'll accept whatever happens.
``I have faith in the process,'' Elgin said. ``I've been part of the process in the past. There have been years when I think we should have had a team in, and when I've had an opportunity to see all the data that the basketball committee's had, I trust their judgment.''
 

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