By Kevin Sweeney
The Missouri Valley may have found its replacement for Wichita State.
Mark Adams of American Sports Network is reporting that Valparaiso will likely join the Missouri Valley Conference as the 10th member of the conference. Adams adds that Valpo will probably be the only addition to the conference. The situation is still fluid, but according to Adams, “current signs point to Valpo”.
In Valparaiso, The Valley would add one of the most consistent mid-major programs in the country. The Crusaders have won 20 games 10 times since the turn of the millennium. The addition of Valpo, a private school, in place of the public Wichita State would create an even balance of public and private schools in the Missouri Valley Conference.
With Wichita State departing for the American Athletic Conference, it became clear that the MVC had to add at least one team to help maintain its status as a top mid-major conference capable of earning multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament on a regular basis. A variety of proposals were floated for potential replacements, with some suggesting the MVC add 3 additional teams to bring its total to 12. Murray State and Valparaiso were considered front-runners to join the conference, with Valley officials also reportedly carrying out visits with UW-Milwaukee and Nebraska-Omaha.
In the end though, the Missouri Valley seems to have decided to add just one additional team.
While it won’t have quite the same ripple effect across college basketball as adding 2 or 3 teams would, it would leave the Horizon League without its premier program. It’s unclear at this time whether the Horizon will look to replace Valparaiso. If they do, possible candidates would include Robert Morris and UMKC.