Drew Valentine, Loyola Chicago, MVC Tournament

CBB Review Highlights the ins and outs of every conference tournament leading up to Selection Sunday. Up Next: The MVC Tournament.

The MVC has elevated itself into one of the most entertaining mid-major conferences with the MVC Tournament almost always delivering some of the best moments in March. This year is no different, with multiple teams pressing for the automatic bid, which more often than not produces a 13-seed or better in the NCAA Tournament. If you want to see more conference tournament predictions, check out the Sun Belt Tournament preview.

Players to watch

There might not be a Cameron Krutwig anymore, but there is an AJ Green. Green has battled through injuries to get to this point, leading the Panthers to the first overall seed in the MVC Tournament. He can get hot in the blink of an eye. Green had a season-high 35 points with nine threes against St. Bonaventure earlier this year. Look for him to take over this tournament. Green isn’t the only scorer in this bunch – Isiaih Mosley is a 20 points per game scorer who has the Bears as one of the favorites. A matchup with Green in the championship would make Arch Madness go ballistic. Lucas Williamson might not be on the same playing field as a scorer, but he is Loyola Chicago’s heart and soul, one reason why the Ramblers are once again near the top of the MVC. It’s Williamson’s fifth season with Loyola-Chicago, and he’s looking to send it off the right way. Tucker DeVries is just a freshman, but don’t let that fool you. He’s got every reason to be considered as a major threat in the MVC Tournament, given he has almost nothing to lose. If he comes back next year, DeVries will be up for conference POY. But right now, the stage is set for DeVries to have a remarkable 2022 tourney.

Team to watch: Drake

Drake is one of the favorites, but as the three seed, they aren’t the popular pick. The Bulldogs have won 9 of their last 12 games, including wins over Northern Iowa and Loyola Chicago (twice) in that span. They can win in multiple ways, with a strong defense and talented scorers. And if you’re hot in March, sometimes that’s all you need.

MVC Tournament Preview

Opening Round – Thursday, March 3

8. Illinois State vs 9. Indiana State – 7 p.m., MVC TV Illinois State has the MVC’s leading scorer in Antonio Reeves. That’s good for a game one win. 7. Valparaiso vs 10. Evansville – 9:30 p.m., MVC TV Valpo is an underrated team considering the strength of this conference. I’m looking at former Wisconsin Badger Kobe King to lead them to a round one victory.

Quarterfinals – Friday, March 4

1. Northern Iowa vs 8. Illinois State – 1 p.m., MVC TV Reeves can still score against the Panthers, but this is AJ Green’s time to let the nation know exactly who he is. 4. Loyola Chicago vs 5. Bradley – 3:30 p.m., MVC TV I like the Ramblers here, but they did split the season series with Loyola Chicago needing OT for the first game and Bradley taking the most recent. It’ll be a close one. 2. Missouri State vs 7. Valparaiso – 7 p.m., MVC TV If there’s an intriguing upset I’m looking at, it’s Valpo over Missouri State. You don’t think I’ll do it, do you? Think again. It’s Arch Madness, baby! 3. Drake vs 6. Southern Illinois – 9:30 p.m., MVC TV Southern Illinois beat up on most of the league’s worst and didn’t fare too well against the top-seeded teams in this tournament. However, they were all close games and only lost by a combined three points to Drake. I’ll take the Bulldogs anyway.

Semifinals – Saturday, March 5

1. Northern Iowa vs 4. Loyola Chicago – 3:30 p.m., CBSSN Loyola Chicago is still my pick in the latest Matty Brackets, so despite the unpopular opinion around them, I have to stay loyal to my projections. I also do like the matchup Williamson provides down low. 2. Valparaiso vs 3. Drake – 6:00 p.m., CBSSN How did we get here? Well, it’s where the road ends for Valpo, and my Cinderella pick advances to see another day.

Finals – Sunday, March 6

4. Loyola Chicago vs 3. Drake – 2:00 p.m., CBS I told you Arch Madness was going to be wild. Give me Loyola Chicago all the way. See you in March Madness, Sister Jean.