Conference Tourney Primers: Missouri Valley

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 5th, 2015

We’re in the midst of Championship Fortnight, so let’s gear up for the continuing action by breaking down each of the Other 26’s conference tournaments as they get under way.

Missouri Valley Tournament

Dates: March 5-8

Site: Scottrade Center (St. Louis, MO)



What to expect: Northern Iowa versus Wichita State: Round Three. After they split a pair of games in the regular season, Arch Madness now serves as the backdrop for what should be an epic title game between the Missouri Valley’s two most dominant teams. Any other match-up would be a surprise. The Shockers probably have the slight edge because of their considerable experience in pressure-packed, neutral-court games, but look for both clubs to receive single-digit seeds on Selection Sunday. Evansville is the only other conference opponent to beat one of them – narrowly edging the Panthers on New Year’s Day – while the advanced metrics like Illinois State as the third-best team. Still, neither the Aces nor the Redbirds are likely to threaten here.

Favorite: Wichita State. Could go either way here considering the regular season split, but let’s call Wichita State the favorite since it’s been in this position before.

Darkhorse: Illinois State. Can the Redbirds steal an NCAA Tournament bid? Probably not, but they are riding a four-game winning streak into St. Louis and played both Wichita State and Northern Iowa tough at home this season. Of Illinois State’s 11 losses, eight were decided by six points or fewer, so perhaps Dan Muller’s well-balanced team is due for some lucky bounces.

Who wins: Wichita State. The Shockers turned the ball over just three times in their 14-point victory over Northern Iowa last Saturday, including zero from Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. That kind of poised guard play is invaluable in a tournament setting and should serve Wichita State well in a potential rubber match with Northern Iowa. Big man Darius Carter (11 points, six rebounds) did a better job against Seth Tuttle over the weekend, and ‘glue guy’ Evan Wessel (3-of-6 3FG against UNI) has been more of a scoring threat in recent games. Oh, and last I checked, Gregg Marshall still paces the sidelines.

Player to watch: Seth Tuttle – Northern Iowa. If the Panthers leave Arch Madness victorious, Tuttle will have a lot to do with it. He is an excellent shooter (66.3% eFG), passer (3.3 APG) and defensive rebounder (22%) whose interior defense helped Northern Iowa limit opponents to just 43.7 percent shooting inside the arc. There’s a reason the 6’8” senior won Missouri Valley Player of the Year over VanVleet or Baker – he’s really, really good.

Tommy Lemoine (250 Posts)

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *