By Ben Greenberger
It is the second week of March, and that can mean only one thing: Arch Madness is here! One of the most fun and entertaining conference tournaments in the country, Arch Madness in St. Louis never disappoints. This year looks to be unlike any other, and could impact the rest of the country. Never count out a conference that loves to breed Cinderella stories. From Wichita State’s magical run in 2013, to Loyola Chicago’s 2018 stretch of destiny, the Missouri Valley has a habit of making the rest of the country take notice. Here’s everything you can expect to see in the conference tournament and beyond:
Team to Watch in MVC Tournament:
I’m going to take Northern Iowa. They come into the conference tournament as the No. 1-seed, boasting a 14-4 record within the MVC, and an impressive 16-0 mark on their home court. They split with No. 2-seed Loyola Chicago, the other reasonable contender in this tournament, with the home team winning both times. Should these two match up again in the championship game, I like UNI in a close one. Joe Lundardi has the Panthers slated as a No. 10-seed.
Watch out for the Indiana State Sycamores. They come into the tournament as the No. 3-seed, and have a first round matchup with the Missouri State Bears. To win this tournament, they would likely have to go through both top dogs, Loyola and Northern Iowa. While this seems like a tall task, this team is getting hot at the right time. The Sycamores have been extremely streaky this season. Twice already they have had losing streaks of three or more games, followed by a winning streak of four or more games. They come into the tournament winners of their last four, the longest current streak in the conference. Success in March is all about getting hot at the right time, and this team is as hot as they come right now.
Players to Watch:
There are several stars that are looking to shine bright on the Enterprise Center stage. Look out for Northern Iowa’s AJ Green, Bradley’s Darrell Brown, and Loyola’s Cameron Krutwig. Green leads the conference in scoring and free throw percentage, Brown is fifth in scoring and the conference’s leading rebounder, and Krutwig is fourth in scoring while shooting nearly 57% from the field.
All-in-all, this conference has shown the potential to make a run. Any one of these teams is capable of making headlines across the nation. Just ask the team in last place. The Evansville Purple Aces may know a thing or two about shocking the world. They’re the team that went into Lexington and beat then top-ranked Kentucky. Evansville currently sits 0-18 in conference play, making them the perfect example of how you never know what to expect in college basketball. Northern Iowa is my pick, but look out for any team coming out of the MVC to make a big splash in the Big Dance.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org