ST. LOUIS -- For the fourth-straight year, the State Farm MVC Tournament will have a different top seed. Northern Iowa, which shared the regular-season title with Creighton, earned the No. 1 MVC Tournament seed for the first time in school history. The Panthers, picked sixth in the league's pre-season poll, finished with a regular-season record of 20-10 and 14-4 in league play, and held the tiebreaker over co-champion Creighton (25-6, 14-4).
It's the first ever Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title for the Panthers and 14th for Creighton. The Panthers' previous best finish was a second-place tie in 2004, a year in which UNI won the State Farm MVC Tournament. Creighton, meanwhile, last earned a league regular-season crown in 2002, when the Bluejays were co-champs with Southern Illinois.
This year's tournament -- the 33rd Missouri Valley Conference post-season tourney and 19th-straight in St. Louis -- begins on Thursday, March 5, at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Notably, the top seed of the league men's basketball championship has only won the title once since 1998 as Drake swept the regular-season and tourney titles last season. Drake beat Illinois State in the championship game a year ago.
The tournament, which features nine games in four days, culminates on Sunday, March 8, with a nationally televised championship game on CBS Sports at 1 p.m. CST. Six games (the four quarterfinals and two semifinals) will air on the MVC Television Network. All nine games of the tournament will be available on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
Creighton has been to a league-record 11-straight post-season (NCAA or NIT) tournaments, while Southern Illinois is hoping to continue its lengthy post-season streak, which currently stands at seven in a row.
Southern Illinois is the only league school to win three-straight titles - doing so from 1993-95 in St. Louis. SIU's other titles came in the first year of the tournament, 1977, and most recently in 2006. The last time a Valley school defended its tournament title was in 2003 when Creighton won after also winning in 2002. Creighton owns the most MVC Tournament titles, 10, of any Valley school, its last coming in 2007.
2009 State Farm Insurance Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Thursday, March 5 -- Session I [No Television]
Game 1 -- #8 Drake (17-14, 7-11) vs. #9 Indiana State (10-20, 7-11), 6 p.m. [Sirius XM Satellite Radio]
Game 2 -- #7 Wichita State (15-15, 8-10) vs. #10 Missouri State (11-19, 3-15), 8:30 p.m. [Sirius XM Satellite Radio]
Friday, March 6 -- Session II
Game 3 -- #1 UNI (20-10, 14-4) vs. Winner Game 1, noon [MVC TV Network, Sirius XM Satellite Radio]
Game 4 -- #4 Bradley (17-13, 10-8) vs. #5 Southern Illinois (13-17, 8-10), 2:30 p.m. [MVC TV Network, Sirius XM Satellite Radio]
Friday, March 6 -- Session III
Game 5 -- #2 Creighton (25-6, 14-4) vs. Winner of Game 2, 6 p.m. [MVC TV Network, Sirius XM Satellite Radio]
Game 6 -- #3 Illinois State (22-8, 11-7) vs. #6 Evansville (17-12, 8-10), 8:30 p.m. [MVC TV Network, Sirius XM Satellite Radio]
Saturday, March 7 -- Session IV
Game 7 -- Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 1:30 p.m. [MVC TV Network, Sirius XM Satellite Radio]
Game 8 -- Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 4 p.m. [MVC TV Network, Sirius XM Satellite Radio]
Sunday, March 8 -- Session V
Championship -- Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 1 p.m. [CBS Sports, Sirius XM Satellite Radio]