Everything is on the line for Missouri Valley Basketball teams as they embark on conference play. By expanding to twelve teams the Valley has also expanded its conference schedule and league members now play 20 conference contests. Those games start this week. This week’s conference clashes will be the earliest in league history.
For most of the conference combatants, everything is on the line. While Drake is undefeated and Indiana State has just one loss, half of the league’s teams have .500 or worse records. Southern Illinois (4-2) has a win over a Big Twelve team and Murray State (3-3) defeated a top-25 team, but Valley teams are struggling in building national resumes.
As the league swings into a week of conference games, some teams and coaches feel like the real season is actually starting. Valley squads will play their first two conference games and then return to non-conference schedules until late December’s beginning to exclusive conference action.
Drake’s Paradise Jam championship, Murray State’s win over Texas A&M and Southern Illinois’ victory over Oklahoma State are the high points of the non-conference schedule so far. League members are 21-4 at home. After winning just ten games in multi-team events (MTEs) last season, Valley squads have claimed 17 victories this year.
Drake’s Kenpom.com rating of 68 is the league’s best, but only Southern Illinois (99) is in the top 100 in the statistical analysis. The league is twelfth in the kenpom.com rating, but league members won nine of fourteen games this weekend.
With ‘middle of the road’ non-conference results, everything is on the line as Valley rivals battle for the first time this year. Newcomers Murray State, Belmont and Illinois Chicago play their first MVC games this week and all three open their Valley history with home games.