Drake: The Bulldogs will again dominate the Valley this year. They return plenty of scoring options and will again average within the top three nationally in assists. Drake has three starters coming back and senior pairing Becca Hittner and Sara Rhine will once more lead the MVC in points per game. Former Pac-12 All-Freshman Team honorable mention redshirt-sophomore Kierra Collier will be able to play this year after transferring from the University of Washington. Junior Maddie Monahan who average 3.3 assists per game will once again run the point for the perennial MVC powerhouse program.
Missouri State: The Bears ended Drake’s quest for a third consecutive undefeated conference season last February. Missouri State brings back nearly its entire NCAA Sweet 16 roster that won 24 of its final 27 games. They will be a force to be reckoned with under new head coach Amaka “Mox” Agugua-Hamilton, who comes to Springfield after six seasons at Big Ten Michigan State. With six juniors, the Bears will keep getting better and remain atop the standings.
Bradley: The Braves return their entire end-of-season starting five. Senior Chelsea Brackmann, the double-double machine, will lead the Braves. Juniors Gabi Haack and Nyjah White will be a presence and sophomore guards Lasha Petree and Tatum Koenig will continue to develop in their second season. Scoring won’t be an issue and the defense will determine how far the Braves play in March.
UNI: The Panthers bring back two All-MVC honorees in juniors Megan Maah, the leading rebounder, and Karli Rucker, who scored 15 points per game last season. UNI’s length will pose problems to opponents defensively and on the offensive glass. As long as 13th year head coach Tanya Warren is on the sideline, the Panthers will put up a fight.
Southern Illinois: The Salukis return all five starters from a team that underperformed last season. SIU had a losing conference record for the first time since 2014. They will score and are poised to put up a challenge each game. Junior Abby Brockmeyer is ready for a breakout season as the third weapon behind senior Preseason All-MVC Nicole Martin and junior Makenzie Silvey.
Loyola: Nearly all of the Ramblers scoring from a year ago is still on the roster. Junior Abby O’Connor will continue to write her name in the Chicago school’s history book, while reigning All-Freshman Team members Allison Day and Janae Gonzales will become more consistent threats. Loyola’s eight youthful underclassmen may struggle early, but the Ramblers will ramble aggressively into Hoops in the Heartland.
Illinois State: The Redbirds return only two starters from last year’s fourth place 11-7 squad. Senior TeTe Maggett, the Valley’s fourth highest scorer in 2018-19 with 15.9 points, will likely lead the entire league in minutes per game this year. The Redbirds is not deep and will struggle to close out tight contests.
Indiana State: Vicki Hall, a world champion, has taken over the head coaching duties for the Sycamores. Although, there isn’t a returning face in Terre Haute, other than graduate assistant Tamara Lee, ISU Blue may surprise many in the Valley. The recruiting class includes six junior college transfers and eight freshmen is ready to do battle.
Valparaiso: The Crusaders’ success comes via the three ball. If it falls, the games will be close and they will upset fans and teams alike. Redshirt-junior Addison Stoller will remain sneaky and surpass her 67 steals of last season. Valpo is experienced and can’t be overlooked. Defenses must be ready to close out on shooters and crash the glass for high-flying rebounds.
Evansville: The Aces lost over half of their scoring from a 2-16 conference team. Evansville will again be a bottom feeder, but they will play freely. Transfers Jada Polan, Lola Bracy and NaTaya Partee will play this season and bring collegiate experience to Matt Ruffing’s squad. With three Evansville natives on the roster, the Aces will play for ho