The Missouri Valley Conference has been perhaps the most competitive and unpredictable league in the country. That speaks to the parity of the conference’s members, but makes only one thing certain in this tournament: there will be chaos. Check out a preview below:
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Where: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Mo.
When: March 7-10
Final: March 10, 1:05 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
National Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott has been one of the most valuable players in the country and he’ll continue to show what makes him so important in this tournament. He dropped 41 points on Wichita State to win the regular season title. But don’t forget about Creighton’s supporting cast, either. Gregory Echenique, Ethan Wragge, and Grant Gibbs, plus the rest of this rotation make Creighton the favorite.
And if they lose? Wichita State
The Shockers lost out on a chance to win the regular season title because of McDermott’s 40-point performance, but they are still dangerous in this tournament. Cleanthony Early is an all-conference player and Carl Hall is his complement in the frontcourt. Wichita State needs production from point guard Malcolm Armstead, too, considering the strong backcourts at the top of this conference.
Sleeper: Northern Iowa
In a league of chaos, Northern Iowa has picked up steam down the stretch. The Panthers have won seven of their last nine, including an eight-point win over Illinois State to finish the regular season. They face Illinois State again in the first round.
– Jackie Carmichael, Illinois State
Carmichael has an NBA-sized body and is putting up numbers like he is ready for the next level, too. Illinois State will need some consistent double-doubles from him to make a push toward the automatic bid.
– Jake Odum, Indiana State
Odum first came into the national spotlight when his last-second shot lifted the Sycamores over Miami in Hawaii, but he has continued to produce in conference play. He is averaged 14.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game, including a 20, 6, and 5 night in the regular season finale against Evansville.
– Colt Ryan, Evansville
Evansville comes into the MVC tournament riding a four-game winning streak and Ryan is a big reason why. He averaged 28 points per game over that span, which included wins over Indiana State and Wichita State. On the season, he is averaging 20 points and 4.1 assists per game.
CBT Prediction: Just as he took over the regular season finale against Wichita State to win the league title for his team, Doug McDermott will take over the MVC tournament championship game and get Creighton the automatic bid.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_