The ultimate tiebreaker
Wichita State and Illinois State meet in one of the Valley's most contentious and high-stakes championships in recent history.
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ST. LOUIS — Wichita State and Illinois State are no strangers to sharing.
The two teams had an identical Missouri Valley record of 17-1 — their only losses being to each other on one another’s home courts.
“They’ve got talented guys,” Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall said. “They’ve got size. They’ve got athleticism and skill.
“We have the same.”
The two teams were so similar, determining who had what seeding for the tournament came down to a conditional tiebreaker being the RPI.
Missouri State and Southern Illinois each gave way for the Shockers and the Redbirds to meet for a third time, the ultimate tiebreaker, in the MVC championship game.
“It should be two heavyweights going at it — slug fest,” Marshall said. “Hopefully we make more plays than they do, shoot the ball well, have a better game plan and come out on top.”
The Shocker’s own the most recent win of the series, a 41-point blowout in Koch Arena. MiKyle McIntosh of Illinois State, did not suit up in the Redbird’s only conference loss. That’ll change on Sunday.
“It was unfortunate that I was unable to be out there, but I was just looking forward to hopefully playing them again,” McIntosh said, “and now we are.”
The winner of the game will earn the Missouri Valley’s automatic-bid for the NCAA Tournament. The loser will have to wait a week to know if they stand a post-season destination.
“We’re excited we’re playing them, but we can only control what we can control,” WSU’s Conner Frankamp said. “It will be a big game tomorrow, but we feel like we’ll be ready for it.”
WSU will play in the championship game for the second time in 10 years. Now more than ever, the Shockers want all the glory. The trophy, the rings, the banners and a week without worry.
“We just want to win it all,” WSU’s Shaq Morris said. “We haven’t officially cut down nets, so that’s what it’s about to me.”