Nine of the MVC men’s basketball schedules are out, all except Drake. We can’t wait on the Bulldogs to see if anybody gets a boost or takes a hit.
- WSU (schedule here) has three sets of back-to-back road games, most notably at Illinois State on Feb. 17 and then a faster-than-normal turnaround at Indiana State on Feb. 19. Illinois State is a top-two contender and the Sycamores are a capable of finishing in the top half. The finale at Creighton will get more attention (especially if Doug McDermott were to make any noise about declaring for the NBA Draft after his junior season), but that swing may do more to determine WSU’s MVC finish. The Shockers, so good on the road the past two seasons, play two of their first three and three of their first five on the road – at Drake, Bradley and Evansville. Most of WSU’s toughest road tests are in February – at UNI, Illinois State, Indiana State and Creighton.
- After the game at Indiana State, WSU gets more than a week at home, a rare treat, with a BracketBusters game (Feb.22-24) and Evansville (Feb. 27) before heading to Creighton on March 2. That will offer the Shockers good practice time and rest before March.
- WSU plays three back-to-back MVC sets at home. Illinois State (Jan. 16) and Creighton (Jan. 19) is the big one.
- Indiana State returns from three games in Hawaii on Dec. 26 (I’m guessing, after playing Dec. 25) and opens MVC play at home against Illinois State on Dec. 30. Then it’s off to UNI and Creighton. That’s a tough MVC start for a team coming back from Hawaii. The Sycamores are in position to finish strong if they survive January. They play five of their final seven games (including BracketBusters) at home.
- Creighton is the only MVC team (unless Drake gets hit) with a three-game road swing. The Bluejays play at WSU, Drake and in SIU in late January. They have two back-to-back home stands. Creighton plays three of its first four at home and four of its final six (including BracketBusters) on the road. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships are Jan. 20-27 at the CenturyLink Center, booting the Jays out of town for that period. That provides a look into some of the scheduling challenges (Bradley and Evansville also play at off-campus arenas) faced by the MVC and explains why WSU plays at Creighton on March 2.
- Illinois State will show quickly if it’s up to contending. The Redbirds open at Indiana State and then face Creighton and UNI at home.