Missouri Valley has a great tournament

Missouri Valley has a great tournament

The Missouri Valley is the rare league that is (probably) getting one bid to the NCAA tournament but has multiple teams that could conceivably win a game in the big dance.

The MVC is typically one of the most competitive conference tournaments in the sport, the biggest one that wraps up this week. “Arch Madness” takes place in St. Louis beginning Thursday, and the championship game takes place Sunday on CBS. Here’s what you need to know before betting on the MVC tournament at BetMGM:

Standings

1. Northern Iowa (14-4 in conference, +500 odds to win at BetMGM)

2. Missouri State (13-5, +450)

3. Drake (13-5, +700)

4. Loyola Chicago (13-5, +110)

5. Bradley (11-7, +700)

6. Southern Illinois (9-9, +2000)

7. Valparaiso (6-12, +12500)

8. Illinois State (5-13, +20000)

9. Indiana State (4-14, +10000)

10. Evansville (2-16, +50000)

The favorites

  • Loyola-Chicago (+110): Northern Iowa won the MVC regular-season title with a 102-96 overtime win over Loyola Chicago on Saturday, but Loyola is still the highest-rated KenPom team in the conference. The Ramblers are an offensive machine that shoots a very high percentage from 3 and inside the arc too. Loyola has an interesting at-large case, but being considered as such means another loss this week. The Ramblers looked fairly safe before going 8-5 down the stretch. Now they’re a clear bubble team. They could still get an at-large bid if they make the MVC final and lose a close game (being No. 29 in KenPom will help), but the week before Selection Sunday wouldn’t be comfortable. An extra layer of intrigue: Loyola is leaving the league for the Atlantic 10 after this season.

  • Northern Iowa (+500): UNI won nine of 10 to earn the No. 1 seed in the conference tourney. The downside is Loyola slipped to the No. 4 seed, so Northern Iowa would draw the Ramblers in the semifinals. UNI showed it can beat Loyola but it’s rare for a No. 1 seed to be a betting underdog in its first game, which Northern Iowa is likely to be.

  • Missouri State (+450): The Bears had a surprising victory on Jan. 22, winning by 10 at Loyola Chicago. Guard Isiaih Mosley scored 40 in that game, one of his two 40-point games this season. Mosley scored 20 points per game and has the ability to carry his team for a couple games. He’ll get help from 6-9 Gaige Prim, who averaged 16.3 per game. The Bears lost twice to UNI and dropped the rematch to Loyola, but not having to play either until the title game helps. However, a matchup against Drake in the semis wouldn’t be easy. Still, the Bears aren’t a bad bet to win the MVC auto bid.

A long shot worth considering

  • Southern Illinois (+2000): As the No. 6 seed, Southern Illinois won’t have to play Thursday. They get No. 3 Drake on Friday, which is probably the weakest of the top four teams. The Salukis play slow, which should keep games close, and they can hit 3s. SIU won four of its last five, with the only loss coming by two at Drake. If there’s one team that could make a surprising run to the MVC title maybe it’s the Salukis.

Ty Johnson (2) leads Loyola Chicago in a challenging Missouri Valley Conference tournament field. (Photo by Chris Kohley / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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