The first round of the Missouri Valley Tournament begins on Thursday night in St. Louis. Arch Madness, as it is commonly known, will hold its first two games March 7, with the remaining six teams scheduled to begin play on Friday.
Top seeds Creighton and Wichita State will face the winners of Thursday's games. The Bluejays and the Shockers are expected to earn at-large bids into the NCAA Tournament, but the question is if a third MVC team could put together a strong weekend and steal an automatic bid.
SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean has Creighton as a nine-seed and Wichita State as a 10-seed in his latest bracket projections. Last season, both Creighton and Wichita State made the tournament, with Creighton winning its first-round game against Alabama.
The entire conference was packed closely together, with top-seeded Creighton posting a 13-5 conference record, and bottom-seeded Southern Illinois holding its own at 6-12 in the MVC. In a conference that has shown any team is capable of beating anyone else, Arch Madness should put on a good show over the next few days.
Thursday is highlighted by Missouri State taking on Southern Illinois and Bradley facing off with Drake. Southern Illinois, the 10-seed has a win over Wichita State this season, and Drake, the nine-seed has a win over Creighton.
First Round - Thursday, March 7 (all times eastern)
No. 7 Missouri St. Bears vs. No. 10 Southern Illinois Salukis - 9:30 p.m., MVC TV
Quarterfinals - Friday, March 8
No. 1 Creighton Bluejays vs. Game 1 winner - 1 p.m., MVC TV
No. 2 Wichita St. Shockers vs. Game 2 winner - 7 p.m., MVC TV
Semifinals - Saturday, March 9
Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner - 2:30 p.m., MVC TV
Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner - 5 p.m., MVC TV
Championship - Sunday, March 10
Semifinal 1 winner vs. Semifinal 2 winner - 2 p.m., CBS