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Missouri Valley Conference 2019-20 Early Predictions


(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

By Jack Williams

Since the departure of Wichita State in 2017, Loyola-Chicago has been the team to beat in the Missouri Valley Conference. Most of us thought that Illinois State, who finished near the top of the Conference in the recent past, would have inherited the throne after Wichita State's departure. However, it turned out to be Loyola-Chicago.
Nothing changes in 2019-20 except that Missouri State and Drake could take the top spot from Loyola-Chicago this coming season, especially Missouri State. On paper, Missouri State has one the best rosters in the Missouri Valley Conference - and don’t count out Bradley, and Illinois State. These teams are looking good as well.

With that said is how we predict the Missouri Valley Conference for the 2019-20 season:

1. Missouri State Bears

On paper, this Missouri State team has one of the strongest rosters in the Missouri Valley Conference. Coach Dana Ford has added some quality recruits to this team. JUCO transfer Gaige Prim was one of the best JUCO recruits in the nation for 2019. He is a flat-out scorer who can also defend. He ranked 65th in the nation in Blocked shots and 4th in the nation in rebounds. For a team who ranked near the bottom of the Missouri Valley Conference last season, Prim’s services are much needed. Middle Tennessee’s transfer guard Tyrik Dixon should help this team to improve in the assist category. In his final season at Middle Tennessee he averaged 4.8 points, three rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He’ll be backed up by four-star freshman Ford Cooper, who is a point guard with size. They also will have West Virginia’s graduate transfer Lamont Wes, Colorado’s transfer Anthony Bonner, and Nevada’s transfer Josh Hall.  All these quality transfers can put up big numbers – and let’s not forget that returning will be Missouri State’s top scorers Keandre Cook and Tulio Da Silva. In addition, this Missouri Valley is big in size – the biggest in the Missouri Valley conference. This Missouri State team can compete for the top of the Missouri Valley Conference and surprise some people in tournament if they make it. Missouri State will face Xavier on the road on Friday November 15, Miami on neutral ground on November 21, and LSU on the Road on November 29. These are some tough games for the Bears. But if they could steal two (2) out of the three tough games and dominate the MVC this team could be in the running for an at-large bid in 2020.

Projected Starting 5:


Tyrik Dixon PG (Middle Tennessee)

Keandre Cook SG

Kabir Mohammed SF

Tulio Da Silva PF

Lamont West PF (West Virginia)

2. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers

Loyola was one of the worst offensive teams but, yet the best defensive team in the nation. This great defensive team didn't have problems stopping the ball however they couldn't capitalize on a great defensive stop. Loyola looks to solve their scoring problems by bring in two (2) sharp shooting JUCO transfer, Jalon Pipkins of Paris and Keith Clemons of Vincennes. This addition of sharp shooting division 2 transfer Tate Hall Should also give this team the fire power it is looking for. If Lucus Williamson is healthy and able to play the entire season Loyola should be in the race for the top of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2019-20.

Projected Starting 5:

Keith Clemons PG (Vincennes)

Lucas Williamson SG

Cooper Kaifes SG

Aher Uguak SF

Cameron Krutwig PF

3. Drake Bulldogs

Drake will be starting the season without their top three scorers Nick McGlynn, Brady Ellingson, and Nick Norton. That's over 40 points that will be missing from the roster in 2019-20. However, Drake has a few players on their roster for 2019-20 that could easily makeup for the missing 40 points. Expect increased production out of returning players Liam Robbins, Anthony Murphy, Garrett Sturtz, and Antonio Pilipovic. Expect more from last year's starters Noah Thomas, D.J. Wilkins, and Tremell Murphy. And with Siena transfer Roman Penn on the team Drake is going to remain a scoring power in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Projected Starting 5:

Noah Thomas PG

D.J. Wilkins SG

Tremell Murphy SF

Brady Ernst PF (FGCU)

Liam Robbins C

4. Bradley Braves

Bradley has four frequent starters returning from the 2018-2019 season, which includes their top three-point producers, Darrell Brown, Nate Kennell, and Elijah Childs. However, even with the three on the roster Bradley had one of the worst offenses in the nation. With an average of 66.5 points per game, this team was ranked 310th in the nation in scoring offense. There is no indication that offense is going to get any better in 2019-20. Luckily, this team was one of the best defensive teams in the nation. That defense helped Bradley to win the MVC last season.

Projected Starting 5:


Darrell Brown PG

Nate Kennell SG

Ja'Shon Henry SF

Elijah Childs SF

Koch Bar PF

5. Illinois State Redbirds

This Illinois State team should have a lot of new faces on the roster come the 2019-20 season. Hopefully, scoring should improve with the additions of D1 transfers Dedric Boyd of Eastern Kentucky and Keith Fisher III and Jaycee Hillsman of San Jose State. Each of these players are capable of scoring in double digits consistently. Wichita State's graduate transfer Ricky Torres should get a chance to prove himself in his final season a s a college basketball player. With starter Zach Copeland returning, this team should be able to compete for the top of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Projected Starting 5:


Ricky Torres PG (Wichita State)

Zach Copeland SG

Dedric Boyd SG (Eeastern Kentucky)

Keith Fisher III PF (San Jose State)

Rey Idowu PF

6. Northern Iowa Panthers

Like most teams in the Missouri Valley Conference Northern Iowa was very good defensively. But this was also one of the worst offensive teams in the country. Northern Iowa ranked dead last in the Missouri Valley Conference and 330th in the nation in offensive scoring. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that scoring is going to improve next season. There is only one (1) member on this team that has averaged in double digit figures last season. Northern Iowa should do well in the Missouri Valley Conference next season.

Projected Starting 5:

AJ Green PG

Trae Berhow SG

Isaiah Brown SG

Luke McDonnell PF

Justin Dahl C

7. Indiana State Sycamores

Indiana State has several key players returning from the 2018-19 season, which includes their top three scorers, Jordan Barnes and Tyreke Key. However, This Sycamore team was one of the worst ball moving teams in the nation last season. There is no evidence that ball movement is going to improve. On top of that, this team is small. Getting to the top of the MVC may be ab uphill battle in 2019-20.

Projected Starting 5:

Jordan Barnes PG

Tyreke Key PG

Christian Williams PG

Bronson Kessinger SF

Christopher Agbo PF  (Pearl River)

8. Southern Illinois Salukis

This team will have several new faces in 2019-20, which includes a new head coach Bryan Mullins. This team is also small. Hopefully graduate transfers Ronnie Suggs and Barret Benson are looking to go out with a bang and finishes the 2019-20 season in double digit figures.  Other than that, there is only one player on this roster who has ever scored in double digits on the division 1 level and that's point guard Aaron Cook. This team may struggle a little in the conference standings in 2019-20.

Projected Starting 5:

Aaron Cook PG

Eric McGill SG

Ronnie Suggs SG (Missouri)

Sekou Dembélé PF

Barret Benson C (Northwestern)

9. Valparaiso Crusaders

Two key starters, Derrik Smits and Markus Golder, have transferred. Smits is at Butler and Golder at Cincinnati. With Smits gone, this team gets smaller. Even with Smits on the roster this team ranked 6th in rebounding last season. Expect ball movement to improve with the addition of Juco transfer and point guard Zion Morgan, who averaged 8.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game in his final season at Wabash Valley. Morgan will more than likely back up returning point guard Daniel Sackey, who started in 17 games last season. With increases minutes, Sackey should improve in the assist category. But because this team is so small getting to the top of the Missouri Valley Conference may be an uphill battle.

Projected Starting 5:

Daniel Sackey PG

Javon Freeman SG

Nick Robinson SG (St. Joseph's)

Ryan Fazekas SF

Mileek McMillan PF

10. Evansville Purple Aces

To be honest, this team is difficult to predict. They will have a quality transfer on the team in Art Labinowicz from Coastal Carolina.  Labinowicz can consistently score in double figures. He may be more efficient for this team coming off the bench behind K.J. Riley and sometimes playing alongside him sometimes. This team is difficult to predict because they have a lot of second chance division 1 transfers who could contribute greatly to this team if given the opportunity. Sam Cunliffe, transfer from Kansas and Peace Ilegomah are going to be looking to prove that they can contribute to a division 1 team. This team can be very dangerous to play in the MVC.

Projected Starting 5:


Shamar Givance PG

K.J. Riley SG

John Hall SF

Evan Kuhlman PF

DeAndre Williams PF

 

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College Basketball 2019-2020 Predictions

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Missouri Valley Conference 2019-20 Early Predictions - 33