The 2017-2018 season was a wonderful season for the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers gaining national attention with its historic rise to the final four.

Will we see another team emerge from the ranks of the Conference to advance deep into the NCAA tournament?

The MVC’s 2nd and 3rd place teams, Illinois State and Southern Illinois have several players returning and are in a good position to compete for the Conference regular season and conference tournament championships.

Loyola-Chicago still has a good chance to win the MVC but don’t expect this team to be like the one that went all the way to the Final Four in 2018.

If Bradley find a way to improve in the scoring category this team could be in contention for the top spot as well.

With that said, here is how we project the Missouri Valley Conference standing for 2018-2019:

1. Illinois State Basketball

Coach: Dan Muller

Off Roster:
Left Teams: Madison Williams

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Keyshawn Evans (PG), Milik Yarbrough (SF), Phil Fayne (PF), William Tinsley (SG), Taylor Bruninga (PF), and Elijah Clarance (PG)
Key Transfer(s) added: Zachary Copeland (SG, San Francisco) and Josh Jefferson (PG, Lake Land)
Key Freshmen added: Abdou Ndiaye (PF) and Rey Idowu (PF)

Illinois State, a team that had finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference, should have four (4) out of five (5) of its starters back from the 2017-2018 season. With the addition of JUCO transfers Zachary Copeland, 2017 JUCO Player of The Year, and Josh Jefferson, the red birds should improve both offensively and defensively.

Copeland averaged 18.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.2 points per game in his final season at City College of San Francisco. He is also a pretty good defender. He averaged 1.8 steals per game that same season.

Jefferson averaged 22.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game in his final season at Lake Land College. Jefferson made 44.8 percent of his shots from behind the arc and is also a pretty good defender.

With this current roster, Illinois State will definitely be a contender for the top of the Missouri Valley Conference

2017-2018 Record: 18-15 (10-8) No Appearance
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019: 13+

2. Southern Illinois Basketball

Coach: Barry Hinson

Off Roster:
Graduated: Tyler Smithpeters and Jonathan Wiley

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Armon Fletcher (SG), Sean Lloyd Jr. (SF), Kavion Pippen (C ), Marcus Bartley (PG), Aaron Cook (PG), Brendon Gooch (SG), and Rudy Stradnieks (PF)
Key Transfer(s) added: Eric McGill (SG, Panola)
Key Freshmen added: Darius Beane (PG), Amadou Fall (PF), Sam Shafer (SF), and Jimmy Beane (SG)

Southern Illinois should be getting back all their starters from the 2017-2018season. This is a veteran team that can do some damage next season. If Coach Barry Hinson goes with the same starting lineup, SIU will have four (4) seniors and a junior on the floor.

With the addition of JUCO transfer Eric McGill, this team can go nowhere but up. SIU could using his double digit scoring ability to try to separate themselves from the pact. However, this team is guard heavy so rebounding should remain a problem.

2017-2018 Record: 20-13 (11-7) No Appearance
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019: 11+

3. Loyola (Chi) Basketball

Coach: Porter Moser

Off Roster:
Graduated: Ben Richardson, Nick Dinardi, Donte Ingram, Carson Shanks, and Aundre Jackson

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Clayton Custer (PG), Marques Townes (SG), Cameron Krutwig (C), Lucas Williamson (SG), Christian Negron (PF), Aher Uguak (SF), and Bruno Skokna (SG)
Key Transfer(s) added: Aher Uguak (SF, New Mexico )
Key Freshmen added: Franklin Agunanne (PF), Cooper Kaifes (SG), Isaiah Bujdoso (PG), and Tykei Greene (SG)

Hopefully we will see another run deep into NCAA tournament for the Ramblers. However, there may be a couple of concerns with this 2018-2019 team. One, the Ramblers will be losing over 28 points per game with the loss of Donte Ingram, Aundre Jackson, and Ben Richardson. Keep in mind that even though this team successfully advanced to the Final Four in 2018, they did it averaging only 71.6 points per game in scoring offense, in which the Ramblers ranked 240th nationally in that category . Who’s going to make up for the loss? The second concern is their front court. The ramblers may have to play small, which will result negatively in rebounds per game.

Defense should remain solid with the return of starters Clayton Custer, Marques Townes, and Cameron Krutwig. But don’t expect another final four appearance.

2017-2018 Record: 32-6 (15-3) NCAA Tournament Final Four
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019: 11-

4. Bradley Basketball

Coach: Brian Wardle

Off Roster:
No Longer on team: Ryan Stipanovich
Graduated: Donte Thomas and JoJo McGlaston

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Darrell Brown (PG), Nate Kennell (SG), Jayden Hodgson (PG), Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye (SG), Koch Bar (PF), Elijah Childs (SF), Luuk van Bree (PF), Antoine Pittman (SG),and Luqman Lundy (PF)
Key Transfer(s) added: Chudier Bile (SF, Otero)
Key Freshmen added: Armon Brummett (SG), Ja'Shon Henry (SF) and Aristide Boya (C)

Bradley should be getting back nearly all of its players from the 2017-2018 season. Expect defense to remain solid. As a matter of fact, defense should get even better with return of redshirt shooting guard Antoine Pittman and the addition of JUCO transfer, Chudier Bile, who had ranked 37th in the NJCAA with 48 blocks in 2017-2018.

The Missouri Valley Conference is a defensive conference. There were five (5) teams in the conference to rank in the top 50 or greater in scoring defense. What’s going to separate each team from the other is offense. Whatever team that manages to do well offensively and remain defensively solid, will rule the conference.

The Question is will there be anyone else on this Bradley team, other than Darrell Brown and Chudier Bile who is capable of scoring in double digits each night?

2017-2018 Record: 20-13 (9-9) No Appearance
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019: 10+

5. Northern Iowa Basketball

Coach: Ben Jacobson

Off Roster:
Transferred: Juwan McCloud (Minnesota State)
Graduated: Klint Carlson, Ted Friedman, Hunter Rhodes, and Bennett Koch

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Wyatt Lohaus (PG), Tywhon Pickford (SG), Isaiah Brown (SG), Austin Phyfe (PF), Spencer Haldeman (PG), Justin Dahl (C), Luke McDonnell (PF), and Adam McDermott (SG)
Key Transfer(s) added: Tray Croft (PG, Iowa Central) and Shandon 'Biggie' Goldman (PF, Panola)
Key Freshmen added: A.J. Green (PG)

Coach Jacobson’s teams will always be great defensively, so we can expect the same each year. But, as mentioned earlier, most teams in the Missouri Valley Conference are good defensively. The thing that will separate each team from the other is offense. Northern Iowa ranked last in the Missouri Valley Conference in both scoring offense and assists last season.

To improve in offense, Northern Iowa has added the national Junior College Athletic Association’s #1 scoring JUCO player in the country, Tray Croft. In his final season at Iowa Central Community College, Croft averaged 27.5 points per game.

With offense improving, Northern Iowa should move up in the Missouri Valley Conference next season.

2017-2018 Record: 16-16 (7-11) No Appearance
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019: 9-

6. Valparaiso Basketball

Coach: Matt Lottich

Off Roster:
Transferred: Parker Hazen, Marten Linssen
Graduated: Max Joseph and Tevonn Walker

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Bakari Evelyn (PG), Joe Burton (SF), Mileek McMillan (PF), Derrik Smits (C), Markus Golder (SG), Jaume Sorolla (C ), John Kiser (SF), and Micah Bradford (PG)
Key Transfer(s) added: Ryan Fazekas (SF, Providence)
Key Freshmen added: Javon Freeman-Liberty (SG) and Daniel Sackey

Valparaiso should have Joe Burton back on the bench after being suspended last season for academic purposes. The team needed his point production to effectively compete in the MVC.

However, Valparaiso still doesn’t have a point guard on the team who has the ability to average over three (3) assists per game.

As far as size is concerned, Valparaiso should have the biggest front court in the MVC, with an average size of 6.8 feet. Defense should remain solid and scoring should slightly improve slightly with Burton being back in the lineup.

2017-2018 Record: 15-17 (6-12) No Appearance
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019: 8-

7. Indiana State Basketball

Coach: Greg Lansing

Off Roster:
Graduated: Qiydar Davis, Brandon Murphy, Demonte Ojinnaka, and Brenton Scott

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Jordan Barnes (PG), Tyreke Key (PG), Bronson Kessinger (SF), Devin Thomas (PF), Cooper Neese (SG), Clayton Hughes (SF), Emondre Rickman (PF), and Daniel Huenermann (PF)
Key Transfer(s) added: Allante Holston (SG, North Texas) and Christian Williams (PG, Iowa)
Key Freshmen added: Deavion Washington SG) and Blake Brinkmeyer (PF)

Indiana State will have several players returning from the 2017-2018 season. However, there will be more low production bench players returning than starters. The Sycamores had major problems moving the ball last season. In fact, the team ranked 309th nationally and 9th in the MVC in the “assist per game” category last. On paper, it doesn’t seem that Indiana State has made the necessary additions to address the problem.

This team will also have to find a way to get better defensively.

2017-2018 Record: 13-18 (8-10) No Appearance
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019: 6-

8. Evansville Basketball

Coach: Walter McCarty

Off Roster:
Transferred: Solomon Hainna (Texas–Rio Grande Valley), Ryan Taylor (Northwestern), Dru Smith (Missouri),
Graduated: Duane Gibson, Blake Simmons, and Dalen Traore

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: K.J. Riley (SG), Dainius Chatkevicius (C ), John Hall (SF), Evan Kuhlman (PF), Noah Frederking (SG), and Marty Hill (SG)
Key Transfer(s) added: Shea Feehan (PG, Eureka College) and Rosel Hurley (SG, New Mexico Military)
Key Freshmen added: Shamar Samuels-Givance (PG), Jawaun Newton (SG), DeAndre Williams (PF), and Will Becker (PF)

Evansville is one (1) of the three (3) teams in the Missouri Valley Conference that will start the 2018-2019 season with a new head coach- and just like most teams with new coaches there will be a lot of change in personel . Evansville has lost several players to either graduation or transfer.

Coach McCart has added some pretty good players to try to make up for the loss, such as Eureka College’s graduate transfer and SLIAC’s Player of the year. Shea Feehan. In his final season at Eureka, Feehan scored, on average, 30.6 points per game. However, Feehan alone may not be enough to push towards the top of the MVC.

2017-2018 Record: 17-15 (7-11) No Appearance
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019: 5-

9. Missouri State Basketball

Coach: Dana Ford

Off Roster:
Transferred: Reggie Scurry (Middle Tennessee), Reggie Scurry, (Middle Tennessee), Mustafa Lawrence
Graduated: Tanveer Bhullar, Alize Johnson, J.T. Miller, Ronnie Rousseau III, and Jarrid Rhodes

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Jarred Dixon (PG), Obediah Church (SF), Ryan Kreklow (SF), and Abdul-Hakim Fofana (PF)
Key Transfer(s) added: Darnell Butler, Jr. (SG, Seminole State), Josh Webster (PG, Texas Tech), Keandre Cook (SG, Odessa), and Kabir Mohammed (SF, San Jacinto-Central)
Key Freshmen added: Jan Wójcik (PF) and Szymon Wójcik (PF)

Missouri State will have a new head coach and several new faces on their roaster come 2018-2019. It may take a while for this team learns to play together. Fortunately this team will have two (2) starters, Jarred Dixon (PG) and Obediah Church (SF) returning to help the Jelling process go a little smoother.

2017-2018 Record: 18-15 (7-11) No Appearance
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019: 6-

10. Drake Basketball

Coach: Darian DeVries

Off Roster:
Transferred: Casey Schlatter, Jalen Gibbs (Mount St. Mary's), and Kory Kuenstling
Graduated: Ore Arogundade, De'Antae McMurray, C.J. Rivers, Reed Timmer, and Graham Woodward

On Roster:
Key Players Possibly Returning: Nick McGlynn (PF), Antonio Pilipovic (SF), and Noah Thomas (SG),
Key Transfer(s) added: Anthony Murphy (SG, Florida SouthWestern State), Tremell Murphy (SF, Florida SouthWestern State), Nick Norton (PG, UAB), Brady Ellingson (SG, Iowa), and Demond 'DJ' Wilkins, Jr. (SG, Florida SouthWestern State)
Key Freshmen added: Matthew Gray (PF) and Liam Robbins (C)

Drake loses a coach and nearly every starter from the 2017-2018 season. It is safe to say that this team is in rebuild mode. This may be a pretty rough season for Drake.

2017-2018 Record: 17-17 (10-8) CIT 2nd Round Exit
Projected Conference Wins 2018-2019: 4-

 

Jack Williams
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Missouri Valley Conference 2018-2019 Early College Basketball Predictions

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Jack Williams is the Owner and Operator of D1Coachcorner.com, a graduate of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and a member of the USBWA. Twitter: @d1coachcorner

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