Illinois State and No. 25 Wichita State tied for first in the Missouri Valley Conference race, but ISU (25-5, 17-1) will hold the top spot at Arch Madness in St. Louis by virtue of their higher RPI (34 to Wichita State’s 40). Those two teams seem destined for a third, tie-breaking collision in the MVC Tournament’s championship game.
No other Valley squad finished above .500 in conference play, and the only blemish on either the Shockers’ or Redbirds’ league marks were from each other. This is the first time in the Valley’s 110-year history that two teams have tied for the top spot at 17-1, and they are just the eighth and ninth teams to ever win as many as 17 conference games.
The bottom four MVC teams play on Thursday night to qualify for the tournament’s quarterfinal round. Their reward for winning on Thursday is to play those top two teams the next day.
Outside of the Shockers (27-4, 17-1) and Redbirds, the hottest team in the MVC is Bradley. The seventh-seeded Braves (12-19, 7-11) have won three straight games, including a Saturday victory over first-round opponent Drake.
Two other early round matchups are repeats of Saturday’s final day of the season as Loyola (18-13, 8-10) meets Southern Illinois (16-15, 9-9) and Evansville (15-16, 6-12) battles Indiana State (11-19, 5-13).