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MVC tournament: Preview, prediction, TV info

Cleanthony Early takes a shot against Indiana State Sycamores forward Demetrius Moore.  (USATSI)
It's Cleanthony Early and Wichita State's world, the rest of the MVC is just living in it. (USATSI)

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What: Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

When: March 6-9.

Where: All games played at Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis.

Bracket: View tournament field here.

TV: Title game on CBS on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

Last year's champ: Creighton (28-8, No. 7 seed)

What matters: The MVC tournament -- or Arch Madness, if you will -- is one of the nation's best postseason events because the league's fans really, really support it. I've attended the tournament multiple times, and I'm always impressed by the number of people in the arena -- pretty much everyday. So this week would be a big week in St. Louis regardless of the circumstances. But it's especially big because (perhaps you've heard) Wichita State can, with three victories, enter Selection Sunday with a perfect record.

Who matters: Cleanthony Early is the Shockers' leading scorer and rebounder. Ron Baker might be their best NBA prospect. But the MVP of this Wichita State team -- and the Missouri Valley Conference in general -- is Fred VanVleet, the sophomore point guard who is averaging 11.9 points, 5.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range. Beyond all that, he's Wichita State's leader both on and off the court, and the biggest reason, according to everybody connected to the program, that the Shockers are having this historically great season.

Fun fact: Wichita State is one of just three schools in the nation with a top-20 offense and a top-20 defense, according to KenPom. The others are Florida and Louisville.

Prediction: It's hard to envision a scenario where Wichita State is not cutting nets Sunday afternoon considering the Shockers won their 18 league games by an average of 15.6 points. They were, after all, barely threatened all season, home or away, and they're 87 spots better in the KenPom ratings than any other MVC team. So, yeah, count on Wichita State winning the MVC tournament for the first time since 1987.

 
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