Monday, March 05, 2012 | Women's Basketball, MVC St. Charles
State Farm MVC Women's Basketball Tournament Notebook

STATE FARM MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

Neutral Colors

For the fifth-straight season, the State Farm MVC Women’s Basketball Tournament will be played at a neutral site after using institutional home arenas as hosts for the first 22 league tournaments. The MVC announced the move in the February of 2007. Just six Division I conferences host stand-alone women’s basketball tournaments (Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC, Pac 10, MVC).  

Best Spot
The top seed has won the conference tournament in 15 of 26 seasons and a team that has won or shared the regular-season title has gone on to win the tournament title 17 times. Top seeds have four runner-up finishes.

Teams seeded No. 2 have won the tournament three times and finished as the runner-up 10 times.

Teams seeded No. 4 and No. 8 have won twice, as have teams seeded No. 8. One No. 5 seed (UNI in 2010) and one No. 7 seed have won the tournament, and the lowest seed to ever win the title was ninth-seeded Evansville in 2009.

Worst Spot
Seeds Nos. 3, 6 and 8 have yet to win an MVC Tournament. No. 3 seeds have six runner-up finishes and No. 6 seeds have one.  

When They’re All Here
Here’s a look at how teams have fared, by seed, since the tournament expanded to include all 10 teams in 2006:

Seed W-L Best Result
No. 1 9-4, 2008 & 2011 Champion
No. 2 6-6, 2010 Final
No. 3 6-6, 2008 & 2011 Final
No. 4 4-6, 2006, 07, 08 & 09 Semis
No. 5 4-5, 2010 Champion
No. 6 3-6, 2007 Final
No. 7 9-5, 2006 Champion
No. 8 6-5, 2007 Champion
No. 9 6-5, 2009 Champion
No. 10 1-6, 2009 Quarterfinal

Give Us a Chance
Since the 2000-01 season, the No. 1 seed has won the MVC Tournament just four times (2002, 2004, 2008 and 2011). Ten winners of the tournament came from a seed other than the No. 1 seed.

Unlikely Repeat
Just four times in conference history has there been a repeat winner of the MVC Tournament. Missouri State won four-straight titles from 1991 through 1994. Drake won back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998, Missouri State repeated in 2003 and 2004 and UNI accomplished the feat the past two seasons. The Panthers could become just the second team to win at least three tournament titles in a row, as UNI enters this year’s tournament as the No. 5 seed.

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance
The lowest-seeded team to ever win the MVC Tournament was the No. 9 Evansville Purple Aces squad in 2009. Previously, there were a pair of No. 8 seeds – Illinois State in 2005 and Drake in 2007 – to claim MVC Tournament titles.

Top of the Heap
Missouri State has won the most MVC Tournament titles (nine) of any Valley school, its last coming in 2006. Drake has claimed five tournament titles. Illinois State won the league’s first tournament title in 1983. The last time a Valley school defended its tournament title was in 2011 when UNI earned its second consecutive MVC Tournament title in as many seasons.

Separation Factor
Since the start of the 1992-93 season when the Gateway Conference merged with the Missouri Valley Conference, last season UNI became just the second team to record 17 league wins (Drake, 1997-98). The Panthers (17-1) also were the first MVC team to win the regular-season title by five games, as their closest opponents (Illinois State, Missouri State and Creighton) all featured league records of 12-6. Four times the league title has been won by a three-game margin, twice by two games, 10 times by one game and three times by identical winning records. This season, Missouri State (14-4) won the league by just one game over Illinois State (13-5).

Cream of the Crop
Missouri State (14-4 MVC) won at least 12 conference games for a third-straight season. The Lady Bears hold the league record for the most consecutive 12+ win seasons - 13 - from 1990-2002, while Southern Illinois had a streak of 10-straight 12+ win seasons from 1984-1993.

Illinois State (13-5 MVC) is another perennial power at the top of the league standings. The Redbirds have an active streak of winning 13+ Valley games in six consecutive seasons.

Wichita State (12-6 MVC) won 12 league games for the first time since the 1983-84 season, when the Shockers also finished league play with a 12-6 record.

First to 20
Missouri State became the first Valley women’s basketball team to reach the 20-win plateau this season. For the 15th time in program history (since the 1982-83 season), Missouri State has won at least 20 games, including a streak of six straight (1991-92 - 1995-96), four straight (1998-99 - 2001-02), and now three straight (2009-10 - 2011-12). 

On the Verge
Illinois State (18-11), Wichita State (18-11) and Creighton (17-11) are all on the verge of breaking the 20-win plateau this season. The Redbirds have an active 20-win season streak dating back to 2006-07, while the Shockers are looking for their first 20-win season since 2000-01. The Bluejays are looking for their 14th 20-win season since 1982-83.

History of 20-Win Seasons
The Valley record for consecutive 20-win seasons is six, held by both Drake (1996-97 - 2001 -02) and Missouri State (1990-91 - 1995-96). Drake and Southern Illinois both had five 20-win seasons in a row (DU, 1981-82 - 1985-86; SIU, 1982-83 - 1986-87), while Creighton, Illinois State and Missouri State and have had 20-win seasons in four consecutive years (CU, 1990-91 - 1993-94; ILS, 2006-07 - 2009-10; MSU, 1997-98 - 2000-01).  

Active 20-Win Seasons in the Valley
5 - Illinois State (2006-07 - 2010-11)
3 - Missouri State (2009-10 - 2011-12)
1 - UNI (2010-11)

Speaking of 20 Wins
Since the start of the 1992-93 season only two 20-win MVC teams have been left out of the postseason. In that time, 39 of 41 20-win Valley teams have advanced to the postseason. Last season UNI, Missouri State and Illinois State each earned postseason bids after winning at least 20 games. 

Familiar Territory
Missouri State, which won the regular-season MVC title for the ninth time in program history, has been a mainstay atop the league standings throughout MVC history. The Lady Bears had not won the regular-season championship since the 2004-05 season.

At the Top
Illinois State, which was the No. 2 seed last season, has earned the No. 2 seed for this year’s State Farm MVC Tournament. The Redbirds have been either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed for each of the past six seasons.  

Eight of 10 at .500
Currently, eight of ten Valley women’s basketball teams boast overall records at or above .500. If these eight teams can finish out the season with at least .500 records, it will be the second time in league history for eight teams to accomplish this feat (2009-10).

Previously, seven teams have finished the season .500 or better on five occasions -- 1998-99 (7 winning records), 1996-97 (6 winning, 1 at .500), 1993-94 (6 winning, 1 at .500), 2009-10 (7 winning, 1 at .500) and 2010-11 (5 winning, 2 at .500).

No other conference with 10 or fewer members can make that claim. In fact, only five other conferences have eight or more teams with at or above .500 records, while also having more member institutions.

Conference (# of Teams with at or above .500 records)
Big 12 (9-of-10) .900
Missouri Valley (8-of-10) .800
Big East (12-of-16) .750
Pac-12 (9-of-12) .750 
ACC (8-of-12) .667
SEC (8-of-12) .667

The RPI Report
For the 12th straight week, the Missouri Valley Conference holds steady at the No. 10 position in the latest (Mar. 5) Collegiate Basketball News RPI Report. As a league, The Valley hangs onto the 10th-best strength of schedule, matching its best rank of the season.

Three Teams Ranked in Top 100
Three Valley teams remain ranked in the RPI’s Top 100, led by Missouri State (53). Creighton (84) and Illinois State (93) also represent the MVC among the nation’s top teams in the RPI. 

Title Town
The league has had eight different regular-season champions in the past eight seasons (CU/ILS-2003, MSU-2004, MSU-2005, INS-2006, SIU-2007, DU/UE/ILS-2008, ILS-2009, ILS-2010). Here’s a look at titles by current MVC members (most recent in parentheses):

Team Regular-Season* Tournament
Bradley N/A N/A
Creighton 2 (2003) 1 (2002)
Drake 6 (2008) 5 (2007)
Evansville 1 (2008) 2 (2009)
Illinois State 6 (2010) 4 (2008)
Indiana State 2 (2006) N/A
Missouri State 11 (2005) 9 (2006)
UNI 1 (2011) 2 (2011)
Southern Illinois 4 (2007) 2 (1990)
Wichita State N/A N/A
*Includes outright & shared championships
 

15 is Almost Always Enough
In 27 conference seasons, MVC regular-season champions have won at least 15 conference games 19 times. No team has finished the Valley regular-season with 15 wins and finished lower than second-place. Just two second place 15-win teams have finished more than one game behind the league winner. 

The 1985-86 Drake teams finished 16-2 behind an undefeated Southern Illinois team and the 1991-92 Southern Illinois team finished 15-3 behind a 17-1 Missouri State team that went on the play in the Final Four.