Inside the Bracket: Bid thief in the Valley?
As the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Tournament opens in St. Louis, unbeaten Wichita State is a heavy favorite to win both the MVC tourney title and capture a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Here’s what else we believe: the Shockers are the only Valley team in position to earn an at-large berth. Which means if someone other than WSU wins the title game on Sunday, one less at-large bid will be available on Selection Sunday.
The most obvious challenger is Indiana State. Before losing ground in league play, the Sycamores put together wins over Notre Dame and Belmont. Belmont has been solid. Notre Dame has struggled. But at the time, the Irish were an NCAA-caliber squad. Just below the Sycamores sits Northern Iowa. The Panthers beat VCU in December. There’s also No. 4-seed Missouri State, which managed victories over Tulsa and Texas AM in non-conference play.
Last year, No. 1 seed Creighton pushed through to claim the league’s automatic bid. The two years prior? Creighton (No. 2 seed) and Indiana State (No. 3 seed) garnered the invitation. By this time you know that Creighton has moved to the Big East, so there’s one less nemesis in Wichita State’s path. But this is March and nothing is guaranteed. Friday, the Shockers take on the winner of Thursday’s game between Drake and Evansville.
Bubble teams everywhere hope there’s nothing shocking under the Arch.