Missouri Valley Conference Preview: Can Missouri State Repeat?

  0 Derek Johnson | August 22nd, 2017 | College - Women's Indoor, Division I Mid-Major

The Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) has consistently pushed out solid NCAA Tournament teams and been one of the best non-Power Five conferences in the country. Last year they put three teams in the tournament, as perennial conference power Wichita State has since left the conference to go to the AAC after they were part of that trio. Even without the Shockers though, the MVC should be one of the top mid-major conferences in the country and will push to be more than a one or two-bid league.

The Favorites:

The reigning regular season conference champion, Missouri State, returns as the lead favorite to win the MVC once again in 2017. With the team who finished just one game behind them and who won the conference tournament for the automatic bid (Wichita State) gone and a host of key players returning, the Bears could actually be better in 2017 than they were in 2016. They even received votes in VolleyMob’s preseason top 25.

Dark Horses:

The biggest threat to Missouri State is likely Northern Iowa, who finished third in 2016. They were two matches back of first in the regular season and pushed Creighton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They do lose their top option and a few other starters, but should be solid in 2017.

The rest of the pack:

Illinois State, Loyola University Chicago and Southern Illinois lead the next tier of teams. The Salukis were the best of the bunch in 2016 as they went 12-6 in conference, but experience more losses to their roster than the other two, who should eclipse their 9-9 conference records last season.

Beyond that, Drake should remain strong competition capable of pulling an upset as they look to build off an 8-10 conference season. The bottom three in the conference last season – Bradley, Indiana State and Evansville – totaled just seven wins last season and will look to improve the depth of the conference. Bradley overhauled its roster with transfers and will have a much different look.

One question will be how does Valparaiso figure into the equation. They went 15-19 overall in a weaker conference than the one they are joining, as changing conferences can have either a positive or negative boost on a team’s performance in year one.

VolleyMob’s Big 12 Preseason Pick:

Missouri State

Top Five Conference matches to watch:

  1. November 23-25, Missouri Valley Conference Tournament – Okay, so I cheated. Not only does this account for more than one match but it also comes outside of the regular season. However, with several teams usually on the bubble, the MVC Tournament helps clear that up with plenty of strong matchups as it can punch a team into the NCAA Tournament.
  2. November 11, Northern Iowa at Missouri State – This could weigh heavily in who wins the conference and it comes late in the season as the second match-up between the teams.
  3. September 22, Missouri State at Illinois State – After Missouri State’s non-conference slate features the likes of Kansas, Ohio State, Washington, Washington State and Illinois, the Bears begin conference play with a MVC threat on the road.
  4. October 27, Northern Iowa at Illinois State – Both of these teams could be in competition as dark horses for the top spot or at the least for second-place in the conference, making this late October meeting important to the top of the standings as well as NCAA Tournament hopes.
  5. November 18, Missouri State at Loyola – If Loyola is to usurp Southern Illinois or Illinois State for a top three/four finish, they may need this win on the final day of the regular season. On the flip side, Missouri State may need this to lock in a regular season title.

Predicting the 2017 Big 12 Standings:

  1. Missouri State
  2. Northern Iowa
  3. Illinois State
  4. Southern Illinois
  5. Loyola
  6. Drake
  7. Bradley
  8. Valparaiso
  9. Indiana State
  10. Evansville

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