Missouri Valley Conference (conference rank: 10th)
All games at St. Louis.
kPOY: Markis McDuffie, Wichita State
Regular season champ: Wichita State (preseason #34 / 1st MVC, current #10) and Illinois State (preseason 94th / 3rd MVC, current 45th)
Overachiever: Loyola Chicago (preseason #215, current #98)
Underachiever: Northern Iowa (preseason #82, current #165)
The Valley features the most unusual conference table in the land. Just two of its ten teams finished with a winning record. Wichita State and Illinois State were defeated zero times by the rest of the league, and the other eight members distributed their wins in such a way that no team did better than 9-9.
The 2017 MVC was the first conference since the 2013 MEAC to have two teams end up with one loss or fewer. As far as the dearth of teams with a winning conference record, the last time a conference as large as the MVC did was the MVC in 2012 which featured a spectacular five-way tie at 9-9 behind first-place Wichita State and second-place Creighton. There was one occasion in modern history where a conference had just one team with a winning record. That was the 2004 Big Sky, when seven of the eight members finished with between five and seven conference wins while Eastern Washington claimed the title at 11-3.
Lack of winning teams aside, the league as a whole is having its best year since Creighton was swapped out for Loyola Chicago four seasons ago. Even so, there’s a high likelihood of a championship game showdown between the Shockers and the Redbirds. But unlike most of the tournaments previewed to this point, there is no special dispensation given to the higher seed. All games are on a neutral floor and Illinois State’s margin for error is small. Dan Muller’s squad won five of their conference games by five points or less. A potential semifinal matchup with Milton Doyle and Loyola Chicago could get interesting. And there’s even a 28% chance that Wichita State ends up in the at-large pool where it would likely steal a bid from somebody.
Qtrs Semis Final Champ 2 Wichita St. 100 97.7 90.7 73.6 1 Illinois St. 100 81.8 58.2 17.6 5 Loyola Chicago 100 62.9 24.6 4.3 6 Missouri St. 100 54.4 4.8 1.6 3 Northern Iowa 100 45.6 3.6 1.1 4 Southern Illinois 100 37.1 10.2 1.1 8 Evansville 57.3 11.7 4.7 0.5 9 Indiana St. 42.7 6.5 2.2 0.2 7 Bradley 58.3 1.7 0.6 0.1 10 Drake 41.7 0.6 0.2 0.03