Before the season began, there were two clear favorites to win the Valley, Missouri State and Wichita State.
Both teams have lived up to expectations and sit one-two at the top of the MVC standings at the midway point of the conference season.
While Wichita State is not likely to fall off anytime soon, Missouri State will be conference champions this year.
The Bears have had the same five starters in all of its contests this season and each average over nine points per game.
Kyle Weems is a Player-of-the-Year candidate in the MVC and leads the team in scoring at 16.4 points per game. Weems’ ability to play inside and then step out and hit the three makes him a matchup nightmare for opponents.
Missouri State is 8-1 in the conference and currently sits one game ahead of Wichita State, who they have already defeated this season 59-56 in Wichita.
Along with balanced scoring, Missouri State boasts one of the most stifling defenses in the conference.
The team surrenders just 61.6 points per game to opponents, which is good for 36th best in the nation.
With great defense and an offense that can put points on the scoreboard, the Missouri State Bears will be the 2010-2011 MVC champions.
While it may be impossible to think of a worse mascot then a shock of wheat with a face on it, it is not hard to see the Wichita State Shockers have what it takes to be the best team in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Shockers only lost two non-conference games, one to the fourth-ranked UConn Huskies and the other to the fifth-ranked, and still undefeated, San Diego State Aztecs.
Like the Aztecs, the Shockers advantage over either opponents is their excellence in all phases. They average more points per game then Illinois, more assists then Kansas State and as many rebounds as Duke.
Of course, the Shockers lead the MVC in all those categories, including field goal percentage.
How a bundle of wheat can dominate a league may not make much sense, but when you have the big-man combo of hardnosed J.T. Durley and the finesse talents of seven-footer Garrett Stutz, most teams in the MVC can’t match up.
Throw in Gabe Blair and Arron Ellis who combined add another 10 rebounds and the size of Wichita State will bewilder the MVC.
More than likely, Wichita State fans will cheer and flash their team’s inappropriate hand signal all the way to the sweet part of the NCAA Tournament.