Guide to My Brain Blog
In a few of my discussions with a family friend, I always brought up the topic of the Tigers leaving Conference USA for greener pastures and better competition.
Or in this case, the Missouri Valley Conference, a conference that the Tigers were a part of during the late ’60’s and early 70’s with schools like Bradley, Drake, West Texas State, and future C-USA member Tulsa.
And a conference that has captivated the imagination of college basketball pundits throughout this season as Southern Illinois goes into today’s action in the Valley tournament with the highest ranking in school history and holders of the 5th rated RPI in the country.
The Valley has always thrived on their success in basketball through coaches like Eddie Hickey at Creighton and St. Louis, Chuck Osborn at Bradley, Henry Iba at Oklahoma State, Dana Altman at Creighton, and others.
As well as players like Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Kyle Korver, Hershey Hawkins, Xavier McDaniel, and others.
Which could very well be the ticket that the University of Memphis needs in order to replace the University of Evansville, who was rumored to be leaving the conference for maybe the Mid-Continent as a replacement for Valparaiso in 2007-08.
If you held up the standings in the Valley against the standings in Conference USA, the gap between the first-place and second-place teams in the Valley was only a game while the gap in Conference USA between the Tigers and Central Florida was five games after the Tigers’ win over UTEP on last night.
This year the Valley as a conference racked up wins over big-name schools like Purdue, Wisconsin, Xavier, just to name a few.
Which improved their RPI as a conference.
Conference USA, on the other hand, is still trying to make this new league work and comb its way through the wilderness.
The thing is, the Tigers’ constant success in the conference is going to continue to raise the debate about quality in Conference USA.
Do you put a school with so much basketball tradition in a conference filled with a bunch of bottom-feeders that get their asses kicked by 30 night in and night out?
Or do you devise a committee of alumni who decide (unless if Evansville decides to leave the Valley) that the best way for the Tigers to gain some type of competition in basketball during the conference season is to go back to the Missouri Valley and face the likes of Missouri State, Southern Illinois, and Creighton?
Or do you call one of the athletic directors at one of the schools in the Valley and switch conference schedules?
Think about it.