2019 MVC Men’s Basketball: Where are we now?

By Adam Warfel, Sports Editor

The Salukis will take on Missouri State tonight to open up Missouri Valley Conference play at 7 p.m.

Southern men’s basketball managed to get through their non-conference schedule with a 7-6 record with their two biggest wins coming against Tulsa (90) and Saint Louis University (58).

The NET is being used this year by the NCAA as a replacement for the RPI and will be looked at heavily in March when the committee looks who to give tournament bids to.

The Salukis closed out their non-conference schedule with a loss against Winthrop (136) on December 22nd, the Dawgs have lost three in a row entering conference play with their best scorer senior forward Armon Fletcher under an indefinite suspension for violation of team policy.

For those Salukis fans who haven’t paid attention to the rest of the conference let’s take a look at those teams’ non-conference performances – starting with the Dawgs matchup tonight against the Bears.

Missouri State University (6-7) January 2nd at SIU 7 p.m.

In the preseason the Bears were selected to finish the conference in 8th place in new head coach Dana Ford’s first year. Missouri State currently holds a 6-7 record. The Bears open their season with three wins the biggest of which being against Robert Morris University (305). However after losing to Nebraska (12) they lost eight of their next nine games. Missouri State’s biggest win in their non-conference schedule was against Western Kentucky (122). The Bears have played their best at home, racking up a 4-0 home record.

The Bears played against Murray State and University of Arkansas Pine Bluff as common opponents against the Salukis as they lost to Murray but won against Arkansas Pine Bluff. One thing to note about Missouri State is that they are last in three-point field goal defense in the conference. Junior guard Jarred Dixon played a large role during the non-conference schedule averaging 14.5 points per game to go with 12 steals. Another player to watch for on this team is junior forward Tulio Da Silva who is averaging 16 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game in eight games played for him.

University of Northern Iowa (5-8) January 5th vs SIU 7 p.m.

The Panthers were selected to finish fifth in the conference in the preseason poll after finishing last season 16-16 and 9th in the conference. Northern Iowa holds a 5-8 record after their non-conference schedule. After a win against Bemidji State University the Panthers won two out of three games in the Paradise Jam with wins against Old Dominion (66) and Eastern Kentucky University (187). Old Dominion marks the best win for this Panthers team in their non-conference schedule. Freshman guard AJ Green has led this team in scoring with 15.2 points per game. Sophomore guard Trae Berhow leads this team in rebounds averaging 6.1rebounds per game to go along with 7.5 points per game.

Drake University (11-2) January 8th vs SIU 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs of Drake University were selected to finish ninth in the conference in the preseason poll after a fourth place finish last season. Drake currently holds an 11-2 record with their biggest wins coming against North Dakota State (190) and Texas State(91) and New Mexico State (88) in their non conference schedule, their two losses are against Iowa State and Colorado. Senior forward Nick McGlynn is one of two players to watch for on this team as he leads in scoring averaging 15.9 points per game. Senior guard Nick Norton, who notched a triple-double against North Dakota State, is also a player to watch for on this team. Heis averaging 14.7 points, 6.2 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Valparaiso (7-6) January 12th at SIU 3 p.m.

Valpo was selected to finish seventh in the conference in the preseason after joining the Valley last year after Wichita State left for the American Athletic Conference. The Crusaders have a 7-6 record entering conference play. To open the season Valparaiso was unable to string two or more wins together until beating UNLV (155) and UC Riverside (298), they then lost three of their next four with the lone win being against George Washington (290).

The win against UNLV was the best win for the Crusaders in non-conference play. They have a common opponent as SIU in SIUE (303) whom the Salukis beat, as Valpo won in overtime against the Cougars 74-70. Junior center Derek Smitts is the best player for this team as he is currently averaging 12.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Illinois State (7-6) January 15h vs SIU 6 p.m.

The Redbirds of Normal were expecting for a run for the conference this season as they were selected to finish second in the conference in the preseason. Illinois State currently has a 7-6 record they started off the year with a win against Florida Gulf Coast (226) and at one point won four straight games with the win against Brigham Young University (115) being the end of the streak as they fell to San Diego State (143) in the Mountain West Challenge.

Due to injuries the Redbirds were forced to play parts of their non-conference schedule with seven men though. The best win for this team was against BYU (115) and they hold no common opponents with SIU. Senior guard Milik Yarbrough is a key to this offense as he is currently averaging 17.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game entering conference play. Senior forward Phil Fayne is also a cog for this team 15.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game to go along with 20 blocks.

Bradley (8-5) January 20th at SIU 3 p.m.

The Braves were voted to finish fourth in the conference in the preseason after finishing fifth last year behind Illinois State. Bradley has a 8-5 record entering conference play. The Braves have won six of their first seven non-conference games including wins over Penn St. (79) and Saint Mary’s University (138). The win against Penn State marked the most quality win for the Braves by the NET rankings. They then went on to lose three of their next four with their lone win coming against the University of Arkansas Little Rock (263).

They hold a common opponent with the Salukis in Southeast Missouri State (283), a game which both teams won. Junior guard Darrell Brown has led the team in scoring so far as he is averaging 15.1 points per game. Sophomore Elijah Childs is the other player to watch on this team as he is averaging 12.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game to go with 17 blocks.

Loyola (7-6) January 27th vs SIU

After winning the conference last season and making a push all the way to the final four in the NCAA tournament, the Ramblers were selected to finish first in the conference in the preseason. Loyola ended their non-conference campaign this season with a 7-6 record. They won four out of their first five games, with a loss to a Furman (89) team by two that beat Villanova (31).

The Ramblers then proceeded to lose four of their next five, but won two straight to close out their non-conference schedule.Their best win was against UIC (176) who had beaten Illinois State. Senior guard Clayton Custer is one of the players to watch out for on this team as he is averaging 13.8 points per game to go along with 36 assists in 13 games. Sophomore center Cameron Krutwig is also one to watch on this team as he is averaging 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game to go along with 15 blocks.

Indiana State (8-4) January 30th at SIU 8 p.m.

The Sycamores of Indiana State were picked to finish sixth in the conference in the preseason after finishing eighth last season. The Sycamores made it through their non-conference schedule with a 8-4 record. After opening the season with a loss to Ball State (108), Indiana State won five straight including wins over Western Kentucky (122) and San Jose St. (281), they then lost two of their next three including a loss to Texas Christian University (30).

They picked up a win over Colorado (75) as their biggest win on their non conference schedule.This team is led by Junior guard Jordan Barnes who has played in eight games and is averaging 21 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Tyreke Key who was named to the all MVC newcomer team last season, also is a key to the Sycamores. He is averaging 17.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Evansville (6-7) February 9th at SIU 7 p.m.

The University of Evansville Purple Aces were selected to finish in tenth or last place in the conference in the preseason. In their first season under new head coach and former NBA athlete, Walter McCarty the Aces finished their non-conference schedule with a 6-7 record. Evansville won three of their first five games including losses to Illinois (129) and Xavier (71). The biggest game the Purple Aces played was a loss to Murray State (51) 66-64 who had beaten Southern by 28 in Carbondale. This team plays better at home as all of their wins have occured in Evansville, as the Aces have yet to win on the road this season. The best player on this team is graduate transfer Shea Feehan as he is averaging 13.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Junior guard KJ Riley is also having a good year for Evansville as he averages 13.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

Based off of how each team performed in their non- conference schedule, I decided to give my own prediction for how each team will finish in the conference.

1. Loyola University Chicago (7-6) NET (121)

2. Indiana State University (8-4) NET (108)

3. Southern Illinois University (7-6) NET (124)

4. Drake University (11-2) NET (99)

5. Illinois State University (7-6) NET (210)

6. Bradley University (8-5) NET (188)

7. University of Northern Iowa (5-8) NET (259)

8. Missouri State University (6-7) NET (225)

9. Valparaiso University (7-6) NET (213)

10. University of Evansville (6-7) NET (170)

Sports editor Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at

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