Championship Week: Missouri Valley Tourney Kicks Off Tonight

Chris BrooksCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2009

The No. 1 Northern Iowa Panthers (20-10, 14-4 MVC) and the No. 2 Creighton Bluejays (25-6, 14-4 MVC) headline the 2009 Missouri Valley Conference tournament which begins tonight in St. Louis at the Scottrade Center.

(Note: All seedings are for the conference tournament only.)

The No. 8 Drake Bulldogs (17-14, 7-11 MVC) will play the No. 9 Indiana State Sycamores (10-20, 7-11 MVC) in the opening game at 7:05 p.m. ISU and Drake split the season series, with both teams winning on their home courts.

The Bulldogs come in riding a two-game losing streak, while the Sycamores are winners in six of their last seven.

The No. 7 Wichita State Shockers (15-15, 8-10 MVC) play the No. 10 Missouri State Bears (11-19, 3-15 MVC) at 9:35 p.m. The teams split the series, with both teams winning on their home floors.

Wichita took a one-point win, while the Bears handled the Shockers 68-55 for their first conference win back in January. The Bears lost six of seven to end the year, and the Shockers won four of six to close the regular season.

The quarterfinals will begin on Mar. 6.

The top-seeded Northern Iowa Panthers will play the winner of the Drake-Indiana State game at 1:05 p.m. Indiana State won a game in overtime at Northern Iowa and dropped a heart-breaker at home, losing by four.

Drake was able to pick up a 47-46 win at home, but were crushed on the road.

The No. 4 Bradley Braves (17-13, 10-8 MVC) will play the No. 5 Southern Illinois Salukis (13-17, 8-10 MVC) at 3:35 p.m. Both teams won at home in this series, with Bradley winning by 16 and SIU winning by six on their home courts.

Bradley has won four of five, while the Salukis have lost four of six to end the season.

The No. 2 Creighton Bluejays will play the Wichita-Missouri St. winner at 7:05 p.m. Creighton split with Wichita and swept the Bears in the regular season. The Bluejays are winners of 10 straight, including a Bracketbuster win over the George Mason Patriots.

The Jays handed Mason their worst loss of the season, a 76-63 defeat.

The No. 3 Illinois State Redbirds (22-8, 11-7 MVC) play the No. 6 Evansville Aces (17-12, 8-10 MVC) at 9:35 p.m. ISU swept the season series, winning by 2 at Evansville and rolling by 30 at home.

The Redbirds are on a 3-game losing skid and the Aces have won two of three.

The semi-finals will take place starting at 2:35 on Sat. Mar. 7 and the championship game is set for 2 p.m. on Mar. 8.

The MVC could be a two-bid league if Creighton doesn't win the tournament.