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The Midwest Agenda: Conferences, Schmonfrences

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  • The Midwest Agenda: Conferences, Schmonfrences

    Starting now, every Tuesday I will do a weekly recap of all the Midwestern Men's Basketball conferences, with a blurb on UNI. I hope you enjoy...

    The Midwest Agenda: Conferences, Schmonfrences

    Howdy! I know you haven't heard from me in a while, but it's basketball season and that means a lot of pundits telling you who is good and who isn't. Let's be frank: this is going to be one of those features too. That doesn't mean that this can't be worthwhile, though. It's about high time someone give you the lowdown on midwest basketball, regardless of conference. I hope you'll invite me in and let me do that. After all, I have to do SOMETHING with the 20+ hours a week I spend watching college hoops.


    First things first: let's talk UNI. The Cats enter Ames at 4-1 with a modestly impressive win over ACC also-ran Boston College. Tomorrow will find the Purple and Gold back in Hilton to take on an old friend, Greg McDermott and the Iowa State Cyclones... but you knew that already.

    No, I will address something that has been on my mind regarding this game for a long time. Ours is an interesting rivalry. The arrival of McDermott into Ames after the 2005-06 season forever intertwined the two programs in a very interesting way. McDermott took over what he called a "dream job" and left his assistant at UNI to continue the success of the Panthers. It soured people at the time, but there was very little rebuilding required for Coach Jake to bring the Panthers back into the national consciousness. No one could have ever predicted in 2009 that we would find UNI being Iowa's most consistently good program of the decade. No one could have probably predicted Iowa State would go under the radar for a few years after a stellar couple of seasons under Larry Eustachy.

    Here's the bottom line: Iowa State fans and UNI fans have been surprisingly civil to one another following McDermott-gate. Both programs maintain hope of putting the final pieces together and achieving long-term success. This is my theory as to why there seems to be a charge in the air for tomorrow's game. It's undeniable that two pretty good Iowa college basketball programs will share the floor. For some reason it seems like it's been a LONG TIME since that's happened.

    So here's to you, Iowa State. May we beat you in a thriller tomorrow and you don't lose again after that.

    State of the Conferences

    (in no order other than RPI)

    Missouri Valley:
    It looks to be another banner year for the MVC. My favorite thing about following this conference is that its purpose to the outside world is to serve as vultures for power conference have-nots. The resume is impressive: Boston College, Illinois, Iowa, Auburn to name a few. It seems to be enough to keep the good times rolling. There's nothing quite like hearing MVC delegations screaming bloody murder come NCAA selection time. This year should be fun.

    Big Ten:
    REALLY? I thought this was the year the Big Ten (11) made it's voice HEARD! As it stands right now they are tenth in conference RPI, have no legitimate contenders for the national title (Purdue is on standby, but we'll see), and the bottom of this conference is AWFUL. This league may wind up serving as a social experiment... will the NCAA selection committee be able to ignore how mediocre this conference is? Or will they give them five bids without question once again?

    Horizon League: Everyone talks about the Butler Bulldogs as if they've punched their tickets to the Final Four. Why? This league is too good for Butler to just roll though. Keep an eye out for Wright State to challenge the predetermined champs. Besides, the Bulldogs look PRETTY vulnerable on offense. Defense wins games, but offense scores points.

    Summit League: When I told myself I would try to be egalitarian to ALL the Midwest's conferences, this was the league I knew I'd have the hardest time writing for. Anyone care to weigh in who might know something? Can we at least agree that no one wants to see NDSU win it all again?

    MAC: THIS league, on the other hand, has an article waiting for it. Look for that next week. There are a lot of BAD teams in this conference, but you probably knew that already. Unless you don't know the MAC, which means you should stand in line behind almost everyone else outside of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and DeKalb, Illinois. It would be nice to see this conference be better, but... well, I'll get to that.

    See you next Tuesday!

    "Once it starts, it never ends."
    -Eldon Miller