How the men will shape up in the MVC

Evan Pflugradt

The Shockers are coming off a 17-1 conference finish in the Missouri Valley in the 2014-15 season, and are poised for another winning season.

Preseason polls have Wichita State to finish at the top of the conference yet again as the team tries to become regular season conference champions for the third consecutive season. If it accomplishes that, it will be the first to do so since Southern Illinois in 2005.   

Wichita State faced its toughest conference competition last season, matching up against the Northern Iowa Panthers, ranked inside of the Associated Press’ Top-10 last season. It was the first time the MVC hosted a conference game with both opponents ranked inside the AP’s 25 polls in more than 30 years.

The Shockers have only lost to a conference rival once in the last two seasons — against Northern Iowa last season to a remarkable 35-1 seaon.

“From past history, if you have been going undefeated or the year previous you lose one game, the expectations are going to be the same thing,” senior transfer Anton Grady said. “We don’t plan on losing a game all year.”

Even though the Shockers’ conference record is a standout, the team does not take any game lightly.

“Every game in the Valley, it’s a battle,” senior Evan Wessel said. “I don’t care if they only have two or three wins in the league or if they are undefeated in the league.”

While the Shockers have largely dominated the MVC the last few seasons, its best challenge could come this season.

“We’ve got a lot of talent coming back to the conference,” Wessel said.

Returning to conference play, the team knows it will continue to play with a target on its back.

“Every team is coming to beat us every single day,” sophomore Zach Brown said.

The MVC became a multi-bid conference last season, sending two teams to the NCAA tournament. Even though there isn’t a second conference team as strong as the Panthers last season, the Shockers eye all conference opponents closely.

“The Missouri Valley always has a surprise team,” senior Ron Baker said.

MVC PRESEASON POLL

1. Wichita State

2. Evansville

3. Northern Iowa

4. Illinois State

5. Loyola

6. Indiana State

7. Drake

8. Missouri State

9. Southern Illinois

10. Bradley