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Heartland Community College Student Magazine

Fight in the Valley

Fight in the Valley

By: Jake Fogal
The Missouri Valley Conference typically has been full of tough teams to send to the big tournament in March in recent years, and this year seems to be a tad different.

Whether it is the competition or the lack of skill through some of the teams, but this seems to be a down year for the Valley. All of the teams are trying to better themselves to gain confidence before the conference tournament in a couple of weeks. And with each of the teams showing obvious weaknesses, 6 out of the 10 teams could surprise us and make a run. Those six teams are Drake, Loyola-Chicago, Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Northern Iowa, and our Illinois State Redbirds.

Drake has recently climbed up the standings, winning four in a row to take the lead in the conference at 10-5. Right behind them though are Missouri State(who has also won four in a row), and Loyola-Chicago( reigning conference champions). Many projections had Drake and Missouri State in the last place before the season started, so for them to take advantage of a down year in the MVC is surprising. Loyola came into the season with tons of momentum, after going to the final four last year in the March Madness tournament, but many expected them to fall after losing crucial players who helped make that run in the tourney.

Southern Illinois was expected to improve this year and be towards the upper half of the conference but currently sits in the middle of the pack at 7-7. Northern Iowa is basically in the same boat, as they sit at 7-7 and seem to be holding on by a thread. While both of these teams still sit in a position to make something of their seasons, both are currently on winning streaks, not ready to shut the door just yet.

What is the biggest shocker amongst all the teams in the Valley is Illinois State? ISU was the team anyone and everyone projected to step up and position themselves to dominate the conference. Although it isn’t the opposite of that, ISU is struggling mightily. Losing their last four games, ISU has fallen flat on their faces and are struggling to get back up. They currently possess a 7-7 record and are running out of time to hit that switch and turn it around.

All of these teams have many things in common, one of which is that they all get a fair chance to step up in the conference tournament in St.Louis in a couple of weeks. All the teams at this time also maintain records at or above .500, and the six teams mentioned above are all within 2.5 games of one another. I like many others are hoping for the Redbirds to pull it together and gather momentum to eventually win the MVC tournament and go on to March Madness for the first time in 21 years. But with so many teams vying for the number 1 spot in the conference, they may just be out of time.

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