MVC Again

For the second year in a row, West Virginia will face a team from the strong Missouri Valley Conference in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

In last year's NCAA opener, WVU outlasted a strong Creighton team in the first round to move on to thrilling wins over Wake Forest and Texas Tech, and while many people forgot that game in the thrills that followed, the BlueJays showed that the Missouri Valley Conference, known to locals as "The Valley" plays excellent basketball.

For the second consecutive year, WVU will face a team from that underrated league, as the Mountaineers, a six seed, will play Southern Illinois State (11) in a first round game on Friday at Auburn Hills, Mich.

SIU, which finished tied for third in the regular season with a 12-6 league record, won the MVC tournament title, and its automatic NCAA bid, with a 59-46 win over Bradley. SIU, a stong defensive team, gave up an average of just 49 points in its three game run to the tournament championship, and yielded just 56.2 points per game over the entire season.

Opposite WVU in the bracket is a matchup of third- seeded Iowa and 14th-seeded Northwestern State. The winner of that game faces the winner of the Mountaineer-Saluki matchup on Sunday. WVU is 3-5 alltime against currnet Missouri Valley Conference teams, but has never faced Southern Illinois.

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