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Missouri Valley Basketball: 2024 Conference Tournament preview and predictions

Is Indiana State the team to beat in this season's Missouri Valley Conference Tournament? And who are the key players to watch? 

2023 Indy Classic - Indiana State v Ball State
2023 Indy Classic - Indiana State v Ball State / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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Predictions for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament

Round One 

# 7 Murray State v. # 9 Missouri State

Both of these teams have had ups and downs throughout the season, but have the talent to win a game or two in St. Louis. Murray (12-19, 9-11) swept Missouri State (16-15, 8-12) in the regular season, but the Bears’ posted some significant wins, particularly in the non-conference season. Dana Ford’s team defeated West Coast Conference champion St. Mary’s and beat Drake in late January. Seven of Murray State’s nine league wins came against the league’s bottom four teams.

Prediction: Missouri State 68 – Murray State 62

# 5 Belmont v. # 12 Valparaiso

Belmont (19-12, 12-8) tied Northern Iowa for fourth place and since the two teams split their two games the Valley used the NET to break the tie and the Bruins are forced into Thursday action. Since the return of Gillespie the Bruins are playing their best basketball. Casey Alexander’s team has won three straight games and seven of their last eight. They have a lot of fire-power. Roger Powell JR’s young Valpo team (7-24, 3-17) is just that. They have talented players like Cooper Schwieger and Isaiah Stafford, but they are far too young to handle the Bruins.

Prediction: Belmont 82 – Valparaiso 68

# 7 Illinois State v. # 10 Evansville

Despite Illinois State’s surprising defeat at Valparaiso on the final day of the season, the Redbirds (15-16, 9-11) are an improving team. Budding freshman star Johnny Kinziger and transfer forward Myles Foster have taken the lead on this team and the Redbirds had won three out of four games before the thud at Valpo. ‘Kinzanity’ has hit Redbird fans as the rookie guard has started scoring in bunches. Evansville was not a good team during David Ragland’s first season, but they are vastly improved this season. The health of star Ben Humrichous is paramount for the Aces (15-16, 6-14) to contend. He has been in and out of the lineup. When he plays they are dangerous. 

Prediction: Illinois State 65 – Evansville 58

# 6 Southern Illinois v. #11 Illinois Chicago

SIU (19-12, 11-9) was playing for fourth place on Sunday, lost to Northern Iowa on their home floor and find themselves in a Thursday game against UIC (11-20, 4-16). These two teams defend the three point line like their lives depend upon it. They are Valley’s top two in that department and in the top thirty nationally. SIU is a dangerous team with an outstanding scorer in Johnson. UIC’s sophomore point guard Christian Jones is a budding star. 

Prediction: Southern Illinois 65 – UIC 56