Illinois State looked to finish their regular season by continuing its six-game win streak, and claim the conference’s automatic NCAA tournament berth against (11) Northern Iowa. Had the game ended at halftime, it would have been successful. But they play two halves for a reason. Northern Iowa’s seniors are the core of the team and they were the ones cutting down the nets as Missouri Valley champions Sunday afternoon with a 69-60 win. Illinois State led the entire first half and continued to hold the lead until the 13:22 mark in the second. Once the Panthers grabbed control of the lead, though, there was no looking back.
Northern Iowa’s senior power forward Seth Tuttle was named the Larry Bird Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year on Tuesday. Tuttle finished ahead of a talented list of players that included Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet and Ronnie Baker; all three were named First-Team MVC.
There are so many great games happening this weekend, why wait until Saturday to start talking about them? And this Missouri Valley showdown is one that’s so big, ESPN is sending its College GameDay crew there.
Northern Iowa and Wichita State are two tournament teams on a collision course for the regular season finale with first place in the MVC on the line. The highly-touted rematch will tip-off at 1 p.m. CT Saturday at the Charles Koch Arena in Wichita and will be televised on ESPN.