Best of CKS – Chase For A Championship

2016 MVCWBB Contenders
For the first time in Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball history, four teams enter the final week of the regular season with a chance to earn an outright league title. The UNI Panther women’s basketball team has the luxury of sitting on the inside track to a #1 seed but needs to take care of business to claim that seed.

UNI is in first place at 13-3 with Southern Illinois, Drake and Missouri State just one game back at 12-4. The regular season wraps up this week, including Panther road contests at the Southern Illinois Salukis and Evansville Purple Aces to help determine the conference championship.

The Panthers take a six-game win streak to the Salukis, who have also won six straight contests. A UNI victory Thursday can clinch the top seed for the MVC Women’s Basketball Championship based on potential tiebreaking possibilities, but an SIU win gives the Salukis a chance to guarantee the #1 seed with a win in Saturday’s finale.

Saturday’s UNI opponent, Evansville, sit in a much different spot. Head coach Oties Epps resigned Monday, leaving the 10th-place Purple Aces under the direction of interim coach Matt Ruffing. To see how Evansville and Southern Illinois further stack up against UNI, check out the rest of this week’s preview below:

UNI Panthers (18-9 overall, 13-3 Missouri Valley [1st])
Last week: 65-41 win over Bradley, 63-52 win over Loyola (REVIEW)
Preseason prognostication: 3rd/10 (one first-place vote), 23 points above #4 Southern Illinois
Standings/Seeding (unofficial): Could finish between 1st:T-3rd; #1-4 for seeding (Notable scenario: Two wins guarantee outright championship, #1 seed)
Highlighted stats: Allowing 49.2 PPG during six-game win streak; Seventh straight season with at least 17 wins

Southern Illinois Salukis (19-9 overall, 12-4 Missouri Valley [T-2nd])
Last week: 68-55 win at Illinois State, 62-58 win at Indiana State (RECAP)
Preseason prognostication: 4th/10 (one first-place vote), 23 points behind #3 UNI
Standings/Seeding (unofficial): Could finish between 1st:4th; #1-4 for seeding (Notable scenario: Two wins guarantee #1 seed based on potential tiebreaking possibilities)
Highlighted stats: 37.6% three-point shooting during six-game win streak; League-best 6-1 MVC home record

Evansville Purple Aces (2-25 overall, 1-15 Missouri Valley [10th])
Last week: 57-45 loss at Indiana State, 65-59 loss at Illinois State (RECAP)
Preseason prognostication: 6th/10, 31 points above #7 Indiana State
Standings/Seeding (unofficial): Locked into 10th place, 10 seed
Highlighted stats: Nation’s second-worst record (1-27 Air Force); 12-game skid, team’s worst since 1997-98 (16)

Broadcasts for both games will be on Panthers Inside Access via unipanthers.com. News/Talk 1540 KXEL airs “Panther Sports Talk with Ben Jacobson” Thursday and will either carry an Arch Madness Semifinal (if UNI advances) or the Evansville contest Saturday. For more information, visit unipanthers.com. Thanks for reading, and take care! U-N-I Fight! #UNIFight