Courtesy UNI Athletics Communications –
ST. LOUIS – For the second time in three seasons, the Wichita State Shockers will enter the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament as the event’s No. 1 seed. Wichita State, 31-0, set history this year by becoming the first team in NCAA history to win 31 regular-season games without a loss. In the tournament’s 23-year history in St. Louis, Wichita State has been the No. 1 seed twice previously (2006, 2012) and in both seasons, WSU lost in the semifinals.
The 18-0 conference record for Wichita State this year ties a league record for league wins in a season, and the Shockers also became the 15th team in the MVC’s 107-year history to go unbeaten in conference play, and just the third to do so since 1948. Bradley was the last “perfect” team as the Braves went 16-0 in MVC games in 1985-86.
This year’s tournament is the 38th Missouri Valley Conference post-season tourney and 24th-straight in St. Louis. The league has been over 50,000 fans in each of the last 11 seasons, and the 2013 tournament total attendance was second-best for the tournament in its history (37 events). Last year, 71,029 fans attended during the four-day, nine-game event.
The top seed of the league men’s basketball championship has won the title seven times in St. Louis, including four of the past six years (Drake-2008, UNI-2009, UNI-2010, Creighton-2013), but before 2008, the No. 1 seed didn’t won for nine-straight seasons (1999-2007). 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), and the tourney’s top two seeds are a combined 45-1 in their first games in the 23 years in St. Louis.
The tournament, which features nine games in four days, culminates on Sunday, March 9, and for the third time in league history, all nine games will be televised nationally (in HD). For the ninth-straight year, CBS Sports will carry the title game, while the first eight games will air on the MVC Television Network. Radio partner 101 FM (WXOS) will air the first eight tournament games in St. Louis, while Westwood One will air the title game nationally. The title game will be on in St. Louis on KTRS 590 AM and will be carried nationally on Sirius/XM radio.
Notably, since 2003, the league tournament has featured a ranked team six times (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2012, and this year). Until 2012, the MVC Tournament had never featured two ranked teams (Creighton and Wichita State entered the tourney as ranked teams in 2012). Wichita State is the highest-ranked team to play in the league’s tournament since 1979 when Indiana State entered the event ranked No. 1. The Sycamores were also unbeaten heading into the tournament that year.
Of current members, Southern Illinois owns the most tournament titles, with five. The top-seeded Shockers have two league tournament titles, but Wichita State has not won the tournament since it moved to St. Louis in 1991. The Shockers’ two conference tournament championships were in 1985 and in 1987.
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 37 MVC tournaments have failed to reach the NCAAs (Missouri State-2011, Illinois State-1993, Southern Illinois-1992, Southern Illinois-1990, Bradley-1982).
2014 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Thursday, March 6 — Session I
Game 1 — #8 Drake (15-15, 6-12) vs. #9 Evansville (13-18, 6-12), 6 p.m. [MVC TV Network] [WXOS Radio]
Game 2 — #7 Bradley (12-19, 7-11) vs. #10 Loyola (9-21, 4-14), 8:30 p.m. [MVC TV Network] [WXOS Radio]
Friday, March 7 — Session II
Game 3 — #1 Wichita State (31-0, 18-0) vs. Winner Game 1, noon [MVC TV Network] [WXOS Radio]
Game 4 — #4 Missouri State (19-11, 9-9) vs. #5 Illinois State (16-14, 9-9), 2:30 p.m. [MVC TV Network] [WXOS Radio]
Friday, March 7 — Session III
Game 5 — #2 Indiana State (21-9, 12-6) vs. Winner of Game 2, 6 p.m. [MVC TV Network] [WXOS Radio]
Game 6 — #3 UNI (16-14, 10-8) #6 Southern Illinois (13-18, 9-9), 8:30 p.m. [MVC TV Network] [WXOS Radio]
Saturday, March 8 — Session IV
Game 7 — Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 1:30 p.m. [MVC TV Network] [WXOS Radio]
Game 8 — Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 4 p.m. [MVC TV Network] [WXOS Radio]
Sunday, March 9 — Session V
Championship — Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 1 p.m. [CBS Sports, Westwood One, Sirius/XM Radio] [KTRS Radio]