Hoops in the Heartland: MSU comes in as favorites

Hoops+in+the+Heartland%3A+MSU+comes+in+as+favorites

TONI FORTMANN/ Northern Iowan

BRIELLE KIEWIET

The 2020 MVC women’s basketball tournament “Hoops in the Heartland” beginning on Thursday, March 12 is without a doubt going to bring some tough match ups for teams in the Valley. Missouri State and Drake enter the tournament as first and second seeds, with UNI entering as fifth.

The tournament begins Thursday with game one between the eighth-seeded Loyola Ramblers and the ninth-seeded Indiana State Sycamores, with the Ramblers coming into the competition with two regular-season wins over the Sycamores. Seventh-seeded Southern Illinois and tenth-seeded Evansville will also compete on Thursday for game two, with SIU in the forecast to take the win based on two 10+ point-wins against Evansville this season.

On Friday, Missouri State (26-4 overall, 16-2 MVC) will enter the tournament as number one seed for the 11th time in program history and take on the winner of game one. Fourth-seeded Illinois State and fifth-seeded UNI will also compete on Friday in game four with the possibility to go either way. The Panthers have taken on the Redbirds in two close regular-season games falling by less than ten points in both, 65-57 in and 69-61 in overtime.

Continuing in the Friday quarterfinals, second-seeded Drake (14-4 in the MVC), will take on the winner of game two. Third-seed Bradley and and sixth-seed Valparaiso will face each other in game 6, the Braves projected to get their third win over the Crusaders after two during the regular-season.

On Saturday, winners of game three and four and winners of game five and six will compete in the semifinals to decide who clenches their spots in the championship game on Sunday. Missouri State will look to continue their impressive play and compete in the championship to claim their 12th MVC tournament title, the most of any Valley school.

The tournament will take place at TaxSlayer Center in Moline, Ill., beginning with the two opening round games on Thursday, March 12 and ending with the championship game on Sunday, March 15. The tournament champion will receive the Missouri Valley Conference’s automatic bid to the women’s NCAA Tournament.