College basketball offers a diverse range of teams throughout the country. The gap between the rich and the poor is wide. Because of this, team's produce intrigue for different reasons. Duke is trying to repeat, Purdue is a contender already without their best player, Mississippi Valley State's schedule is crazy.
The team of interest in this post is Missouri State. The Bears started and ended the season last year. They started 10-0 with decent wins against Auburn, Tulsa, and St. Louis. They ended by plowing through the CIT field for a postseason championship.
Tempo Free Look
Last year, Missouri State finished a nice 45th in adjusted offensive efficiency and an average 127th in adjusted defensive efficiency. The offense was surprisingly the best in the Missouri Valley, while the defense came in at number four. Yet the Bears finished just 8-10 in the MVC. Seven of the 10 losses were by 6 points or less. Losing close games are somewhat of a debated topic. On one hand, a team who loses in the clutch might not have the "grit" or "determination" to pull out the win. On the other hand, it's certainly takes something to keep the game close. The Bears are almost certain to improve in clutch situations this season and the conference record should improve drastically as a result.
Four Factors Time
The Bears could certainly shoot the ball last year. Kyle Weems, Adam Leonard, and Jermaine Mallet were solid options from downtown. The best aspect of the offense was taking care of the ball. Missouri State turned the ball over on just 17.4% of possessions. Offensive rebounding and getting to the line were not nearly as strong, but not weak enough to bring down the overall efficiency of the offense.
Defensively, the Bears were very average at everything but rebounding. They were the 16th best team in the nation at rebounding on the defensive end. Missouri State would certainly benefit from forcing more missed shots this season. Opposing teams shot 38% from three against the Bears.
Nearly everyone is back for Missouri State, including all five starters. The floor for this team is relatively high. The Bears have several known quanitities sure to produce again this season. Kyle Weems is the go-to guy and led the team with an ORtg of 120. He can fill up all categories on the stat sheet. Adam Leonard and Jermaine Mallet fill a dependable backcourt. The frontcourt is nearly as predictable. 6'9" Senior Will Creekmore proved himself last season. 6'11" Caleb Patterson was solid in rather limited minutes last year. His improvement will certainly be helpful up front. Nafis Ricks may be the one unknown for the Bears. Last season, Ricks was high usage and decent efficiency in limited minutes. Ricks has the potential to breakout and could decide the fate of Missouri State in the MVC.
Games to Watch
- (Potential Tournament Game) @ Tennessee - NIT Season Tip-Off
- Sat, Dec 11 @ Oklahoma State
- Sat, Feb 26 (Regular Season Finale) vs. Wichita State