Is that respect earned? It depends. In the Valley's defense, they are a pretty good mid-major conference. Maybe the best of them. But after watching some of that conference tournament and some selected games this season, it's pretty obvious that the Missouri Valley is not on the same level as the "BCS Conferences". And was that championship game between Bradley and Southern Illinois tough to watch or what? Dennis Dodd summed it up best:
"Everybody's favorite mid-major topped off a weekend of physical, ugly and almost traumatic basketball with more of the same."
I've watched the Missouri Valley tournament for years, and thought the sights of fans jumping around in a mostly empty Saavis Center with their silly "Missouri Valley Champs" signs was pretty humorous. It's nice to win your conference title, but let's face it, the Missouri Valley is still a mid-major conference. A very improved Valley, that's for sure. But, the RPI gives the Valley much more respect than they deserve. And Monday morning, I bet the brass at CBS were thinking the same thing.
Creighton is pinning their hopes on their victories of George Mason (who? They lost in the semis of the Colonial Conference tournament), Nebraska, and Xavier (tenth in the A-10). Well, shoot, if we're going to name drop, Nebraska beat Marquette (4th in the Big East) and Oklahoma and we know Nebraska isn't even remotely close to the tournament.
I really admire what Dana Altman has done at Creighton. He's one of the best coaches in the country. He did an excellent job with his best player out for the season, and his next-best player out for the past month. But, Creighton is what Creighton is. A decent team in a mid-major conference. Last year, they had to win the Missouri Valley tournament to get in. This year, their hopes are fading.
Are we setting up for another NIT rematch of Nebraska and Creighton? Hard to say, especially since the NIT is now set up with brackets and seedings. In the past, they tried to set up matchups like NU/CU to sell tickets, but with the NCAA running the show, that might not be in the cards for this year.