For the fourth time in five seasons (and sixth time overall), the Wichita State Shockers (23-7, 16-2) will enter the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament as the event’s No. 1 seed. In the tournament’s 25-year history in St. Louis, Wichita State has been the No. 1 seed four times previously (2006, 2012, 2014, 2015) winning the tournament title in 2014, while losing in the semifinals the three other times.
THURSDAY, MARCH 3
6:00 pm — Game 1 (#8 Loyola vs. #9 Bradley)
8:30 pm — Game 2 (#7 Missouri State vs. #10 Drake)
FRIDAY, MARCH 4
12:00 pm — GAME 3 (#1 Wichita State vs. Game 1 winner)
2:30 pm* — GAME 4 (#4 UNI vs. #5 Southern Illinois)
6:00 pm — GAME 5 (#2 Evansville vs. Game 2 winner)
8:30 pm* — GAME 6 (#3 Illinois State vs. #6 Indiana State)
SATURDAY, MARCH 5
2:30 pm — GAME 7 (Game 3 & 4 winners)
5:00 pm* — GAME 8 (Game 5 & 6 winners)
SUNDAY, MARCH 6
1:00 pm — MVC Championship Game
* Times of second games of sessions are approximate
This is the 10th Wichita State MVC men’s basketball regular-season title, and the fourth one under head coach Gregg Marshall, the most by a Shocker coach in program history. The Shockers have won 3-straight outright MVC crowns for the first time in its history (going 51-3 over the past three years in league play).
Notably, Wichita State is just the second MVC team in the last 46 years to three-peat, joining Southern Illinois (four-in-a-row from 2001-02 to 2004-05). Wichita State’s 10 MVC men’s basketball titles all-time is tops among active league members ahead of Southern Illinois (8), Drake (7) and Bradley (6). Oklahoma State and Creighton lead all-time with 15 overall crowns in men’s hoops.
Evansville (23-8, 12-6) and Illinois State (18-13, 12-6) tied for second place in the league race this year, and the Aces won the tiebreaker (better RPI) to take the No. 2 seed. It’s Illinois State’s highest regular-season finish since 2008 and the highest for Evansville since it won the MVC regular-season title in 1999. Additionally, the Aces have been as high as a No. 2 seed in the MVC Tournament just once previously (No. 1 in 1999). The last time ISU was as high as a No. 3 seed in the tourney was in 2010 (the Redbirds were also a No. 3 that year.)
In the 25-year history of the tournament in St. Louis, there have been 8 tournaments that featured 3 teams with 20 or more regular-season wins. Every team in those seasons played in either the NCAA or NIT tournaments that year. Southern Illinois (22), Evansville (23) and Wichita State (23) all have 22+ wins this year. Only once previously in St. Louis (2010) did three teams have 21+ wins entering Arch Madness. But no tournament, until this year, has had three 22-win teams.
This year’s tournament is the 40th MVC post-season tourney and 26th-straight in St. Louis. The league has drawn over 50,000 total fans in each of the last 13 seasons, and the 2015 tournament total attendance was 50,187.
The top seed of the league men’s basketball championship has won the title eight times in St. Louis, but just five times in the past nine tries (Drake-2008, UNI-2009, UNI-2010, Creighton-2013, Wichita State-2014). Notably, only twice has a seed worse than No. 3 won the tournament (No. 4 Creighton in 2000 and No. 5 Indiana State in 2001), while the tourney’s top two seeds are a combined 49-1 in their first games in the 25 years in St. Louis.
The tournament features nine games in four days and ends Sunday, March 6. For the 11th-straight year, CBS Sports will carry the title game, while the first six games will air on the MVC Television Network. For the first time, CBS Sports Network will air games at the tournament, carrying the two semifinal games on Saturday. St. Louis radio partner 101.1 FM (WXOS) will air eight of nine games in St. Louis (all but the second semifinal, which will air on KMOX 1120 AM), while Westwood One will air the title game nationally. The title game will also air on Sirius/XM radio.
Notably, since 2003, the league tournament has featured a ranked team seven times (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2015). Until 2012, the MVC Tournament had never featured two ranked teams (Creighton and Wichita State entered the tourney as ranked teams in 2012). In 2015, UNI-Wichita State were the second pair to be ranked in Arch Madness. Top-25 rankings this week will be announced Monday, Feb. 29, in advance of the tourney.
Of current members, Southern Illinois owns the most tournament titles, with five. UNI is second (four), while eight of the league’s current 10 members have won the MVC Tournament. UNI — which won last year’s tournament as the No. 2 seed — will be looking to join Southern Illinois (1993-94-95), Illinois State (1997-98), Creighton (three different times) and UNI (2009-10) as teams that have won back-to-back MVC Tournament crowns in St. Louis.
In 2011, Missouri State became the first No. 1 MVC Tournament seed and regular-season champ in 18 years not selected for the NCAA Tournament. Notably, only five top-seeded teams in 39 MVC tournaments have failed to reach the NCAAs (Missouri State-2011, Illinois State-1993, Southern Illinois-1992, Southern Illinois-1990 and Bradley-1982).