The Missouri Valley Conference announced on Tuesday afternoon that the Presidents Council had unanimously voted to extend a membership invitation to Valparaiso.
Valpo has not yet announced whether they will be accepting the invitation, but the decision had reportedly been down to Murray State and Valparaiso, and Murray State announced earlier on Tuesday that they had not been accepted as a member of the MVC. According to a report from Paul Oren of the Northwest Indiana Times, Valpo’s beat writer, the Horizon League believes that Valpo will be headed out of the conference.
The Crusaders would be replacing Wichita State in the Valley. The Shockers, earlier this spring, accepted an invitation into the American Athletic Conference.
The Valley is expected to remain at just ten teams, according to a report from CBS Sports. There was speculation that the conference could expand to 11 or 12 teams, but that would seem to make it more difficult to reach the NCAA tournament, particularly if the second team to be added was a basketball program as strong as Murray State’s.
Valpo has a long and storied basketball tradition and is one of the better mid-major programs in the midwest. They’re reached the NCAA tournament twice in the last five years and won five of the last six Horizon League regular season titles. The Crusaders will be in a bit of a rebuilding mode, however, as Alec Peters, arguably the best player in the history of the program, graduates this spring, a year after Bryce Drew, a former Valpo star, left the program to take over at Vanderbilt.
But as good as Valpo has been, it does not replace the loss of Wichita State, and they still are struggling to deal with the weight of losing Creighton to the Big East. The Valley is going to need a program like Northern Iowa or Illinois State to step up into that void.
As far as the Horizon League is concerned, that conference has also been mined for the best basketball programs. Remember, Butler, when they reached back-to-back national title games under Brad Stevens, did so as a member of the Horizon.