TERRE HAUTE —
Last Thursday, when Indiana State’s baseball jumped around in a celebratory dogpile after clinching the Missouri Valley Conference regular season championship at Bob Warn Field, no one thought that a little over a week later, the dreaded NCAA Tournament bubble would fly over Terre Haute.
But here the Sycamores are. ISU’s bubble will fly precariously until noon Monday when the NCAA field is unveiled.
Cinderella will have no place at ISU’s table this weekend. The more favorites who win in the conference tournaments, the better for the Sycamores. Any team in the RPI top 50 that advances in the conference tournaments is ISU’s friend.
ISU got no help from its conference brethren. A MVC bid will be stolen by either Southern Illinois or Creighton tonight in the MVC championship game.
With a better Ratings Percentage Index number and longer MVC Tournament run, Missouri State is considered to have a stronger case than ISU does to get a NCAA at-large bid.
Wichita State has a better RPI than ISU too, but the Shockers’ overall record is far weaker and ISU won the season series. Most believe if the MVC gets three bids, ISU would be the third team.
This is in spite of the fact that the Sycamores have lost four in a row and went 0-2 in the MVC Tournament. It’s hard to deny that the Sycamores have thrust themselves into the precarious position they’re in. There’s not much to do but sweat it out.
“We really haven’t done a whole lot. We’re going to practice on [Saturday] morning and scrimmage. Same thing on Sunday. All of us are anxious to find out though. It’s never fun to wait,” said ISU coach Rick Heller, who noted that he’s done “a lot” of scoreboard watching.
Heller, of course, believes the 41-17 Sycamores did enough during the regular season to merit selection to the 64-team NCAA Tournament field.
“I think the strongest case is the fact that we played great all year long. We were really consistent,” Heller said. “The fact that we won the Valley when it was as tough as it was in the last 25 years helps. And we played four out of seven series on the road in the conference. If you win this league with the year it’s had, it has got to get three teams in. I just can’t imagine that with the year the league has had, they’d keep us out.”
Here’s a look at what works in ISU’s favor and what doesn’t.
The case for ISU:
• ISU picked right year to win MVC — The Missouri Valley Conference is on course to have its best RPI season since 1999.
The league is currently sixth and is just percentage points behind Conference USA for fifth place. The upsets in the MVC Tournament have only helped the league’s RPI as all ships have risen with the upset tide.
• History is on ISU’s side — Creighton sports information director Rob Anderson sent me a nugget Friday. The sixth-rated RPI conference has put three teams in the field in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2008, the Big West Conference got four teams in.
ISU is also over the 40-win mark, which is considered to be an important threshold as far as overall record is concerned.
• Dallas Baptist — Dallas Baptist played a partial MVC schedule in 2011 and 2012 as part of a probationary period installed before it could join the MVC as a baseball-only member. DBU decided instead to join the Western Athletic Conference, but in its tour of the MVC, DBU gave everyone’s schedule a big RPI lift. DBU’s RPI is 24 and it will make the NCAA field.
ISU might have benefited the most. ISU won the series against them and DBU is the major reason ISU has a 5-5 record against RPI top 50 teams.
• Purdue — Yes, ISU was one out away from knocking off Purdue in West Lafayette. It would have been huge and the extra-inning loss was disappointing.
But merely playing the Boilermakers gave ISU a RPI lift. ISU’s RPI is at 45 as of this writing. If ISU hadn’t played Purdue, it’s RPI might on the wrong side of 50.
“I think us playing Purdue, even we lost, was a good thing on our part. I think the committee will like that we scheduled that game when we did,” Heller noted.
The case against ISU:
• Poor finish — ISU lost five of its last six games. Three of the games were to quality opponents (Purdue and Missouri State twice), two were to weaker MVC teams (Evansville and Creighton).
I’ve been told that the season finish doesn’t carry as much as weight in baseball as it does in basketball. Perhaps. But ISU did itself no favors and gave the committee something negative to consider regardless.
• MVC regular season champions have been left out before — Missouri State was left out as an outright conference champion in 2009 and 2010 co-champion Wichita State was also on the outside looking in. It should be noted, however, that the MVC’s conference RPI was far weaker in both of those seasons. The MVC was 17th in 2009 and 15th in 2010.
• Strength of schedule — ISU probably had its best nonconference schedule in several years this season with Notre Dame, Kansas and Missouri on the slate. But it’s a testament to how hard it is for northern teams to schedule when ISU’s strength of schedule still ended up 140th nationally.
Northern teams usually get a break when it comes to strength of schedule as weight is given to the regional nature of the sport and that inter-sectional games aren’t feasible. But it’s not a certainty.
• MVC’s history with bubble isn’t kind — It has nothing to do with resumes or anything logical, really, but MVC teams in several sports (including MVFC football) over the years have made rational arguments based on RPI, strength of schedule, etc., for inclusion in the NCAA Tournament only to be left at the altar.
Too often in recent years, when a MVC team has been on the bubble, it has popped. Ask Missouri State. Ask Illinois State. Ask seemingly half of the MVFC membership last season.
Woe to those who get too overconfident when all seems assured — including a certain columnist who said ISU was in for sure a week ago.
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or email@example.com. Follow Golden on Twitter @TribStarTodd.
TERRE HAUTE —
ISU baseball looking to carry success home
Indiana State had pitching questions coming into the season, having lost its entire starting staff from a year ago.
So far anyway, those questions have been answered. The Sycamores are 9-1 going into their home opener today against Western Illinois.
Metro sports: Rose-Hulman picks up baseball win
A late run in the eighth-inning broke a 4-all tie and proved to be the game winner for Rockford College in a 5-4 decision over the Rose-Hulman baseball team Friday at the Chain of Lakes Complex.
Indiana State women move within one win from MVC title
Senior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir had 23 points to lead Indiana State to a 73-71 win at Drake on Thursday. The point guard led four Sycamores in double figures in the win.
Anna Munn, Jasmine Grier and Chelsea Small each chipped in 11 points as ISU shot 10-of-21 from 3-point range as a team.
Sycamores rejuvenated heading into MVC Tournament quarterfinals
Indiana State point guard Jake Odum is sick-and-tired of being sick and tired.
He’s tired of hearing about the team’s three-game losing streak. He’s tired of the Sycamores playing below par. He’s tired of the team not fulfilling its potential.
He plans to do something about it this weekend. Second-seeded ISU begins its Missouri Valley Conference Tournament trek at 7:05 p.m. tonight against either No. 10 Loyola.
Rose-Hulman seniors lead Engineers into NCAA Division III Tournament
For Rose-Hulman’s six senior men’s basketball players, this weekend will mark the beginning of their third and final appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.
Having left Terre Haute by bus Thursday, Rose (22-5) will open the Division III four-team regional at Hope College in Holland, Mich., today against Wheaton College (19-8) at the unique time of 5:30 p.m.
Coach Jim Shaw’s Engineers are coming off Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) regular-season and tournament championships for the second consecutive year.
ISU women seek top MVC seed
Defense and rebounding are the staples of Teri Moren’s fourth Indiana State team, a squad that hits the road trying to defend and rebound its way to a regular-season conference title. The Sycamores women’s basketball can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference with wins tonight against Drake and Saturday against Northern Iowa.
Nebraska completes sweep of Indiana
Indiana’s slim hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid are all but done, unless the Hoosiers can win the Big Ten Tournament. Nebraska never trailed Wednesday night, completing a season sweep of the Hoosiers with a 70-60 win. The loss ensures a losing conference record for IU (17-13, 7-10 Big Ten) while boosting the Huskers’ chances at an at-large berth.
ISU reserve Smith earns two MVC honors
Indiana State sophomore Khristian Smith has been named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s All-Bench and Most Improved Teams, according to an announcement by the league office Wednesday.
Two Sycamores with Scott during Saturday incident
A Vigo County’s Sheriff’s case report of Brenton Scott’s arrest last Saturday indicated that Scott, an Indiana State basketball player, tried to pass himself off as his twin brother and that two of his teammates were with him at the time of the incident.
Metro Sports: Sycamores to be represented at NCAA indoors
Three members of the Indiana State track and field team will compete in the 2014 NCAA indoor championships March 14-15 at Albuquerque, N.M. Senior Greggmar Swift will represent the men, while sophomore Katie Wise and senior Mary Theisen will represent the women.
Rose meets Wheaton in NCAA opener
Rose-Hulman will open its third straight trip to the NCAA Division III basketball tournament at 5:30 p.m. Friday when the Engineers play Wheaton in a four-team regional hosted by Hope College.
Metro: No ISU baseball today; home opener now Friday
Indiana State’s baseball home opener that was to be played today has been pushed back, according to Sycamore head coach Mitch Hannahs.
ISU's Scott booked for OWI, possession
Indiana State men's basketball player Brenton Scott was booked into the Vigo County Jail on Saturday for operating while intoxicated, possession of marijuana/hash, possession of paraphenalia and false reporting/informing.
Odum can't get roll on game-winning attempt on Senior Day
The storybook was ready to be opened at Hulman Center on Saturday.
Down two with 4.5 seconds to go, Indiana State rebounded a free throw miss by Northern Iowa’s Seth Tuttle. ISU senior point guard Odum timed his dash perfectly up the floor. He released his shot from just behind the 3-point line at just the right second. The shot was true and online.
TODD GOLDEN: Lansing's belief in his team has not wavered
In the wake of Indiana State’s 71-69 loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday, and the three-game losing streak that comes with it, ISU coach Greg Lansing wanted to get one point across crystal clear in his postgame press conference.
VIDEO: Munn has made her mark on ISU women's program
Anna Munn has been a dependable leader in the Indiana State women’s basketball program. Her leadership has helped coach Teri Moren build to back-to-back 10-or-more win seasons in the Missouri Valley the last two years.
Rose-Hulman wins third straight HCAC tournament crown
Tied with Hanover 26-26 at halftime of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball championship game Saturday night, host Rose-Hulman knew it had a couple of things in its favor.
Rolling along: Third straight victory helps Sycamores tie for second in MVC
Aside from Teri Moren sticking with her pink Chuck Taylor shoes on the sideline for superstitious reasons, Indiana State’s three-game winning streak can be explained by strong play in nearly every aspect of the game.
Sycamores stay positive in face of adversity
After Indiana State’s 77-59 loss at Illinois State on Wednesday, ISU players had an idea of how the tone of Thursday and Friday’s practices would be prior to today’s regular-season finale against Northern Iowa.
Engineers, Hanover to vie for HCAC title
For the second year in a row, the men’s basketball teams of Rose-Hulman and Hanover will square off for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship in Terre Haute.
Metro: ISU softball win streak reaches 6
Indiana State improved its college softball winning streak to six games Friday by beating Wright State 4-3 and IUPUI 3-2 on the opening day of the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Classic.
Odum's final chapter is here; how will he author the ending?
If you compare a college basketball career to a book, Indiana State point guard Jake Odum has been a page-turner from day one.
Odum has dazzled ISU fans from the time he became a starter during the first weekend of his first season in 2010. The Sycamores have not had a losing season during the Odum era, a run of success unprecedented in ISU’s Division I history.
VIDEO: Indiana State women looking to add to winning streak at home
Indiana State looks to put a three-game winning streak together tonight against Loyola, who topped the Sycamores behind 30 points by senior forward Troy Hambric for one of the Ramblers’ nine wins this season.
The Sycamores’ women’s basketball team stifled Missouri State last Friday and knocked off first-place Wichita State on Sunday for a pair of road wins last weekend. They'll look to build upon that momentum tonight at home.
Sheehey's career-high 30 helps Hoosiers over No. 20 Iowa
Will Sheehey scored 19 of his career-high 30 points in the first half and Stanford Robinson added a career-best 17 to lead Indiana over No. 20 Iowa 93-86 on Thursday night in a game that was postponed last week.
A.J. Reed picks up multiple NCAA baseball honors
Kentucky junior pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed has been named National Hitter of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and a National Player of the Week by NCAA.com, according to separate announcements.
A member of the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List, the Terre Haute native was named National Hitter of the Week by the NCBWA, with VMI right-hander Reed Garrett earning NCBWA Pitcher of the Week.
Redbirds dominate Sycamores 77-59
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is running out of answers for its recent woes ... and it’s running out of time to fix them. The slumping Sycamores added defensive problems to their offensive slump on Wednesday at Illinois State. The Redbirds made the Sycamores pay dearly for their poor all-around effort out of the gate as the Sycamores fell 77-59.
Rose coach expects wide-open race for HCAC title
Both Rose-Hulman basketball programs hope their teams will still be talked about in the Wabash Valley media after this weekend when they compete in their Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournaments.
No. 16 Michigan rallies past Purdue
Glenn Robinson III got a late bank shot to roll in as time expired Wednesday night, giving No. 16 Michigan a 77-76 overtime victory at Purdue.
Metro roundup: Hutson awarded USA Track and Field grant
Terre Haute native and 2016 Olympic hopeful Kylie Hutson was awarded a $7,000 grant from the USA Track and Field Foundation.
No. 14 Wisconsin beats Indiana 69-58
Sam Dekker scored 16 points and No. 14-ranked Wisconsin shrugged off a slow start to beat Indiana University 69-58 in men’s basketball Tuesday night.
The Hoosiers (15-12, 5-9 Big Ten) held Wisconsin (23-5, 10-5) to its lowest point production in the first half this season, taking a 29-19 lead.
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