The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament kicks off this March 2nd, 2017 with a pair of games in the opening round. Essentially, the opening round is the bottom four teams in the MVC, while the top six all earn byes. This year, the Illinois St. Redbirds claimed the number one seed, as they’ve gone 17-1 in conference play. The only team to defeat them was the second seeded Witchita St. Shockers, who also went 17-1 in conference play. The tiebreaker between the two wound up being RPI, in which the Redbirds were marginally better.
The third seeded Northern Iowa Panthers have won the last two MVC Tournament’s, but this year has been an an up and down season. It’s clear, the loss of team leader Wes Washpun to graduation has set back the program. If I were to be honest, this is a two team race for the automatic bid and perhaps, the loser could be an at-large. I mean, the Witchita St. Shockers are definitely a bubble team.
The schedule are as follows:
Thursday, March 2 (first round), MVC TV Network
Game 1: No. 8 Evansville vs. No. 9 Indiana State, 7 p.m.
Game 2: No. 7 Bradley vs. No. 10 Drake, 9:30 p.m.
Friday, March 3 (quarterfinals), MVC TV Network
Game 3: No. 1 Illinois State vs. Game 1 winner, 1 p.m.
Game 4: No. 4 Southern Illinois vs. No. 5 Loyola (Chi) Ramblers, 3:30 p.m.
Game 5: No. 2 Wichita State vs. Game 2 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 6: No. 3 Northern Iowa vs. No. 6 Missouri State, 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 4 (semifinals), CBSSN
Game 7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 3:30 p.m.
Game 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 6 p.m.
Sunday, March 5 (championship)
Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 2 p.m. ET, CBS Sports
Prediction: I’m siding with the Wichita St. Shockers to win the MVC Tournament, which oddly they haven’t won very often. In fact, the Shockers have only won it three times, most recently in 2014. The Shockers come into the tournament with a solid 27-4 record, going as previously mentioned 17-1 in conference. To boot, they are riding on a 12-game winning streak, as well as they’ve won 18 of their last 19 games.
According to Ken Pomeroy, the Wichita St. Shockers are his 10th ranked team. They also rank 11th in offense and 24th on defense, which is pretty darn elite.
On the season, the Shockers really didn’t have the strongest of non-conference schedules, but they test themselves against some elite teams like the Louisville Cardinals (10 point defeat) and Oklahoma St. Cowboys (17 point defeat). As for some marquee wins, I’d say home wins against the Loyola Chicago Ramblers and Illinois St. Redbirds stand out. Also road wins against the Loyola Chicago Ramblers, Oklahoma Sooners and Colorado St. Rams are solid.
The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament takes place in St. Louis as usual, which shouldn’t be an issue for the Shockers, as they have a very loyal fanbase who will represent them well there. And despite their failures in the MVC Tournament, I believe that they will get over the hump this year and earn the automatic bid.