Wichita State Shockers

Paul Suellentrop looks at the Missouri Valley Conference

Preseason All-MVC forward Markis McDuffie of Wichita State.
Preseason All-MVC forward Markis McDuffie of Wichita State. Associated Press

1. Wichita State

Coach: Gregg Marshall, 230-85 in nine seasons

2015-16: 26-9, 16-2 MVC (1st)

Star power: F Markis McDuffie won MVC Freshman of the Year honors last season and is an intriguing blend of scoring and physical ability. C Shaq Morris is capable of ruling the lane in an MVC largely bereft of proven big men.

Remember this name: G Landry Shamet played three games before injury ended his 2015-16 season. A year ago, his development out-paced that of McDuffie.

On the bright side: The Shockers picked an ideal season to lose five seniors. Much of the Valley is also reloading or rebuilding. Seven of the top 10 scorers, four of the top five rebounders and five of the top six assists leaders are gone.

Slow your roll: One scholarship senior. Juniors who are used to the comforting presence of Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker. The non-conference schedule might throw this team off track and require it to win three games at Arch Madness.

Selection day looks like: A low-stress affair after a sweep through the MVC Tournament in St. Louis.

March 2027 looks like: Coach Fred VanVleet — who played six seasons in the NBA before knee injuries ended his career — has the Shockers back in the NCAA Tournament after winning the American Athletic Conference Tournament over Tulsa in the title game.

2. Illinois State

Coach: Dan Muller, 76-58 in four seasons

2015-16: 18-14, 12-6 (T2nd)

Star power: F MiKyle McIntosh (10.9 points, 4.8 rebounds) is one of the MVC’s most physical players. He made 37.9 percent of his three-pointers. G Paris Lee (11.1 points) is the MVC’s top point guard. Both were honorable mention All-MVC picks last season

Remember this name: G D.J. Clayton, a junior transfer, averaged 13.2 points at Palm Beach (Fla.) State College and played in 29 games for Western Kentucky in 2014-15.

On the bright side: The Redbirds return four players who started 23 or more games. A healthy C David Ndiaye, a 7-footer, is helpful. He played in 12 games — and blocked five shots in 14 minutes against Tennessee State — before a stress fracture ended his season.

Slow your roll: Muller must develop depth off the bench. The transfer of F Nick Banyard (5.2 points, 4.3 rebounds) to Central Florida hurts.

Selection day looks like: The Redbirds are back in the NIT and looking forward to 2017-18 when transfers Milik Yarbrough (Saint Louis) and Christian Romine (UTEP) join the active roster.

March 2027 looks like: The Redbirds are the power of the MVC, which now consists of 12 schools with the departures of Wichita State and Evansville and the addition of North Dakota State, North Dakota, South Dakota State and South Dakota.

3. Northern Iowa

Coach: Ben Jacobson, 220-118 in 10 seasons

2015-16: 23-13, 11-7 (T4th)

Star power: F Jeremy Morgan (11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds) scored 36 points in an NCAA Tournament loss to Texas A&M. He is an excellent defender who will need to score more with the loss of perimeter players Wes Washpun, Matt Bohannon and Paul Jesperson. F Klint Carlson (7.4 points, 3.6 rebounds) also came up big in March, scoring 17 in the MVC Tournament title game and 17 vs. Texas A&M.

Remember this name: Freshman G Juwan McLoud is expected to play big minutes at point. McLoud, who averaged 24 points at Germantown (Wisc.) High, is physical and confident and his adjustment to college is expected to proceed quickly.

On the bright side: The Panthers are always solid and a good non-conference schedule will help their NCAA resume. Four redshirt freshmen are ready to add their experience.

Slow your roll: Washpun’s departure means someone new must direct the offense and defense. Junior G Wyatt Lohaus (4.0 points) is more comfortable playing off the ball, which means at least some of the point-guard duties are in the hands of youngsters.

Selection day looks like: The Panthers are on edge after finishing strong and losing to the Shockers in St. Louis. The NIT is a good goal for a team with two seniors.

March 2027 looks like: Jacobson’s retirement tour includes batting practice with the San Francisco Giants, his favorite team, and another trip to the NCAA Tournament.

4. Missouri State

Coach: Paul Lusk, 71-90 in five seasons

2015-16: 13-19, 8-10 (T6th)

Star power: G Dequon Miller (12.7 points) earned MVC Newcomer of the Year honors. F Chris Kendrix (12.1 points, 4.8 rebounds) made 35.5 percent of his threes.

Remember this name: F Obediah Church (6.3 points, 6.1 rebounds) made 59.7 percent of his shots and should be more of a force in his sophomore season.

On the bright side: The Bears return seven players who started last season. Freshman G Greg Williams was ranked a four-star recruit by ESPN.com before injuries set him back. If healthy, he could give MSU a boost.

Slow your roll: MSU must improve dramatically on offense after ranking No. 307 in effective field-goal percentage out of 351 teams. The Bears shot 41.4 percent from the field, 31.6 from three-point range and 67.5 from the foul line.

Selection day looks like: Hoping that the NIT calls.

March 2027 looks like: Basketball, now coached by Steve Woodberry, and women’s basketball, coached by Jackie Stiles, are back near the top of the MVC.

5. Indiana State

Coach: Greg Lansing, 109-88 in six seasons

2015-16: 15-17, 8-10 (T6th)

Star power: G Brenton Scott (14.6 points, 4.1 rebounds) made 38.4 percent of his threes. His ball-handling (44 assists and 57 turnovers) must improve. G Everett Clemons (5.4 points, 6.3 rebounds) is the Valley’s top returning rebounder at 6-foot-1.

Remember this name: Freshman F Bronson Kessinger redshirted last season after a broken leg ended his senior season in high school.

On the bright side: With Kessinger, C Brandon Murphy (4.8 points, 4.2 rebounds), F Neils Bunschoten (4.4 points, 1.6 rebounds) F Emondre Rickman (2.3 points, 2.8 rebounds) and the return of C T.J. Bell from injury, Indiana State plans on employing a strong rotation of big men.

Slow your roll: The Sycamores need freshman G Jordan Barnes to play significant minutes at point guard behind Clemons.

Selection day looks like: The Sycamores are happy to accept a spot in the College Basketball Invitational.

March 2027 looks like: Indiana State dropped football in 2019 and went all-in on basketball, soccer and baseball. The 10,200-seat Hulman Center remains too big, but the Sycamores fill more seats now that basketball is the priority.

6. Loyola

Coach: Porter Moser, 71-91 in five seasons

2015-16: 15-17, 7-11 (8th)

Star power: G Milton Doyle (11.2 points, 3.2 rebounds) needs to reduce his turnovers (103 last season) to reach his potential.

Remember this name: G Clayton Custer, a transfer from Iowa State, may give the Ramblers a steady threat at point to reduce the burden on Doyle. Custer played at Blue Valley Northwest and was the 2014 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year. He earned All-State honors from The Eagle three times and led Northwest to Class 6A titles in 2013 and 2014, along with Loyola teammate G Ben Richardson.

On the bright side: The move to the MVC didn’t overwhelm Loyola. After a 4-14 MVC record in their first season, the Ramblers improved to 8-10 and 7-11 and won an MVC Tournament game in 2015 and 2016. They own wins over every MVC school except Wichita State and swept Northern Iowa last season.

Slow your roll: Size is again an issue. The Ramblers struggle to match up with the Valley’s bigger teams.

Selection day looks like: The Ramblers will be thrilled if the CBI or CIT comes calling. The schedule is set up to keep that possibility in play.

March 2027 looks like: After years of struggling against better-funded public schools, Loyola is leading the exploration for a Midwest-based conference for private schools, one that also piques the interest of Drake, Bradley and Horizon League members Detroit Mercy, Valparaiso and Evansville. Oral Roberts is always looking to leave the crumbling Summit League and Nashville-based Belmont and Lipscomb are intrigued.

7. Southern Illinois

Coach: Barry Hinson, 62-67 in four seasons

2015-16: 22-10, 11-7 (T4th)

Star power: F Sean O’Brien (12.1 points, 6.0 rebounds) is in better condition and Hinson is hyping him as a possible All-MVC player.

Remember this name: C Thik Bol averaged 3.3 blocks at Iowa Western Community College.

On the bright side: SIU pulled itself out of the depths with last season’s 22 wins. Three starters and a key reserve are back. If the fans regain their enthusiasm, SIU Arena can be a tough place to play.

Slow your roll: SIU prepared for the departure of G Anthony Beane (19.3 points), devastating as that may be. C Bola Olaniyan (7.8 points, 8.8 rebounds) left SIU in late June and transferred to Alabama, a move that surprised and dismayed Hinson.

Selection day looks like: With four seniors, none of whom played in the postseason, SIU might be willing to accept any tournament available.

March 2027 looks like: Coach Bryan Mullins, formerly an assistant at Loyola, returns to Carbondale and promises more floorburns and more defense.

8. Evansville

Coach: Marty Simmons, 151-143 in nine seasons

2015-16: 25-9, 12-6 (T2nd)

Star power: G Jaylon Brown (10.8 points, 2.2 rebounds) is the lone returning starter after a knee injury sidelined F Blake Simmons for the season.

Remember this name: F Ryan Taylor started 28 games for Ohio in 2014-15 and averaged 8.1 points. He practiced with the Aces last season.

On the bright side: Simmons’ system works, but it requires patience. This is a transition season after the departure of All-MVC picks Egidijus Mockevicius and D.J. Balentine. Next season won’t look much better. Simmons will eventually grow the Aces back into a top-half MVC team.

Slow your roll: If last season’s 25 wins couldn’t get the Aces into the NIT, what will?

Selection day looks like: It’s quiet at Evansville.

March 2027 looks like: The Aces, weary of losing budget battles, left the MVC in 2020 for the Horizon League. Six years later, joining a private-school conference with former MVC mates Bradley, Drake and Loyola holds great appeal.

9. Bradley

Coach: Brian Wardle, 5-27 in one season

2015-16: 5-27, 3-15 (9th)

Star power: F Donte Thomas (9.1 points, 6.2 rebounds) will benefit from playing with a true point guard.

Remember this name: F JoJo McGlaston started seven games at Utah State in 2014-15. He averaged 5.6 points as a sophomore with the Aggies.

On the bright side: Wardle added experience with McGlaston and Texas Tech transfer F Alex Foster to help last season’s overmatched freshman class. Freshmen Jayden Hodgson and Darrell Brown are the future at point guard.

Slow your roll: There isn’t a senior on the roster.

Selection day looks like: A good time to evaluate Wardle’s second season after a .500 record gives long-suffering Braves fans hope.

March 2027 looks like: Peoria is split between MVC loyalists who want to stay in the conference that created most of Bradley’s greatest moments and those who see a better fit, athletically and academically, with regional private schools.

10. Drake

Coach: Ray Giacoletti, 31-62 in three seasons

2015-16: 7-24, 2-16 (10th)

Star power: G Reed Timmer (16.8 points, 3.6 rebounds) made 40.4 percent of his three-pointers and 81.3 percent of his foul shots.

Remember this name: G De’Antae Murray averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 assists in junior college. He can boost Drake’s offense if he creates more open shots for Timmer and G Graham Woodward.

On the bright side: G C.J. Rivers, who started 11 games, is back after a broken left hand ended his season in early January.

Slow your roll: The transfer of C Dominik Olejniczak (6.5 points, 4.1 rebounds) to Mississippi disrupts Drake’s rebuilding. Giacoletti lived through freshman growing pains, only to see the big man bail.

Selection day looks like: With one senior, Drake should be focused on 2017-18.

March 2027 looks like: Drake, another MVC stalwart, works to convince Bradley to join the private-school conference. Coach Keno Davis, back where he belongs after coaching at Providence and Central Michigan, leads the lobbying effort.

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