This is part 4 of a 32-part series that will take a look at every conference and conference tournament in the country. We'll recap who's playing and what the stakes are for each team in the conference.
The final standings:
Wichita St 16-2 (23-7)
Evansville 12-6 (23-8)
Illinois St 12-6 (18-13)
Northern Iowa 11-7 (19-12)
Southern Illinois 11-7 (22-9)
Indiana St 8-10 (12-18)
Missouri St 8-10 (14-16)
Loyola(Chi) 7-11 (14-16)
Bradley 3-15 (5-26)
Drake 2-16 (7-23)
Tournament format: Thursday March 3 to Sunday March 6. Everyone in St Louis on a neutral site.
1) Wichita St vs. 8/9) Loyola(Chi)/Bradley
4) Northern Iowa vs. 5) Southern Illinois
2) Evansville vs. 7/10) Missouri St/Drake
3) Illinois St vs. 6) Indiana St
Wichita St is a lock. I think. The non-con SoS is hanging tough at #4 in the country, they're 9-3 in true road games, and the win over Utah will be better than what some other bubble teams bring to the table. I think that's going to be enough to get them through no matter what happens here. I mean, as long as they don't punt a stupid game in the quarterfinals. The good news is neither UNI or SIU represent a terrible horrible loss, just a pretty bad one. I think they're home free.
4 fringe NIT candidates in this conference, and I'm not sure any of the 4 can get there. The best RPIs are Evansville (91) and UNI (93). That's really borderline, as far as past history goes with the NIT. Evansville is probably in the best shape, but don't have a single signature win. SIU and Evansville played poor non-con SoSs and will pay the price for it here.
I think you can make the argument that these four teams are all among the last 10 out on the NIT bubble, but they're all out.