The 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship Game between the Illinois St. Redbirds and Creighton Bluejays on Saturday has built a high level of expectation going in after the thrilling previous rounds.
Illinois State clinched its berth in the title game after a 65-64 upset victory over Wichita State Friday. It took a second half surge in which the Redbirds outscored Wichita State 37-28 after trailing by eight points at halftime and by as many as 13 in the game.
Tyler Brown sank a pair of free throws with 6.4 seconds left and finished with 25 points against Wichita State.
Brown told the Times Republican in Iowa that he put a lot of pressure on himself to knock down those shots from the charity stripe.
"I was just thinking, ‘I've got to knock these down. It's all on me,'" said Brown in a phone interview after the victory. "It's do or die, survive and advance right now. We didn't come here to win one game, we came to win the whole thing. That was our mindset coming into this game and it's still our mindset."
Creighton is riding a six-game winning streak into the championship game.
The Bluejays are winners of six of the last 13 conference tournaments and are looking for their first trip to the NCAAs since 2007.
The Redbirds are seeking their first NCAA tournament berth since 1998.
Game time/date: 1:05 p.m. CT, Sunday, March 4, 2012
Location: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO