MVC Power Rankings: Northern Iowa showing it can challenge Wichita State

The Missouri Valley Conference is hands-down better top to bottom this year. Wichita State is slightly worse, but everyone else except for Drake and possibly Missouri State is better.

With conference play starting in a few weeks, here is a look at where all 10 teams stack up.

1. Wichita State (5-1)

Wichita State finally lost a regular season game for the first time March 2013. It was a one-point loss in overtime at nationally ranked Utah, so you can’t really knock the Shockers for that.

They are still one of college basketball’s elite teams and the favorite in the MVC.

2. Northern Iowa (8-0)

With a hot start Northern Iowa is nationally ranked this week. The Panthers don’t have any marquee wins, but victories against Stephen F. Austin, Richmond, Northwestern and Virginia Tech aren’t bad.

These Panthers have tons of experience in addition to great talent. They will challenge the Shockers for the conference title.

Photo: Molly Bartels / Courier & Press
Photo: Molly Bartels / Courier & Press

3. Evansville (6-1)

Evansville’s only loss so far is by two points to Green Bay, the Horizon League favorite. The Aces haven’t played a tough schedule, but this start to the season is their best since 2008-09.

4. Illinois State (4-3)

Illinois State has close in all of its losses. The Redbirds lost by five points to Utah State, by four points to Seton Hall and by four points to VCU. If they had won just one of those games, they would be sitting ahead of the Aces in this week’s rankings.

5. Loyola (5-2)

Loyola has been the biggest surprise in the Valley. The Ramblers have a nice win at Kent State and seem to have solved last year’s road struggles. They’ve won their last three road games.

Three easy home games coming up should allow to pad their overall record.

6. Southern Illinois (5-3)

If I were picking where I think teams would finish in the MVC standings, I would have Southern Illinois ahead of Loyola. But the Salukis are not deserving of the No. 5 spot through eight games. Their best win is Austin Peay, which is ranked No. 265 in Kenpom.

Plus, Southern Illinois lost to Kent State by 23 points while Loyola beat the Golden Flashes by eight points.

7. Missouri State (4-3)

Missouri State also hasn’t defeated anybody of note. Its best win is Arkansas-Little Rock. The Bears struggled and nearly lost to Alaska-Anchorage, but leading scorer Marcus Marshall missed that game with an injury.

Right now, it’s simply hard to tell where the Bears deserve to be ranked in this No. 5 thru No. 7 cluster.

8. Indiana State (3-5)

Indiana State has lost four straight games, granted the team has played some very tough games. The Sycamores’ best win is Brown, and losses to Saint Louis and Ball State show Indiana State will not be one of the conference’s leaders like it was last season.

9. Bradley (3-5)

Bradley has plenty of issues to figure out. The Braves were competitive in Las Vegas against TCU and Saint Louis, but they were blown out at Memphis. They also have home losses to Texas-Arlington and Robert Morris.

To pile it on, leading scorer Warren Jones is out four to six weeks with a stress fracture in his foot.

10. Drake (1-7)

Drake’s only win is at home against IUPUI. The Bulldogs are the only team in the Valley ranked outside Kenpom’s top 250, and their defense is among the nation’s 10 worst on Kenpom.

Author: Jesse Kramer

Jesse Kramer is the founder of The Catch and Shoot. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He has had work featured on SI.com, College Insider, The Comeback/Awful Announcing, and 247Sports.

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