Best of CKS – Four Days in the Quad Cities

Hoops in the Heartland makes its debut tonight as the 2016 Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Championship gets underway at the iWireless Center in Moline, Illinois. This marks the first of at least three years that the Missouri Valley Conference will come to the Quad Cities (hence, the Quad City DJ’s video/reference above).

The UNI Panther women’s basketball team played at the iWireless Center in December, defeating the Akron Zips, 59-51, during the MVC/MAC Challenge. That event, which also included the Illinois State Redbirds, served as a preview/trial run that should add to the efficiency and enthusiasm of this weekend’s tournament.

Now, the Panthers return as the No. 1 seed and will play Friday at Noon against the winner of Thursday’s Opening Round contest between the Wichita State Shockers and the Bradley Braves. UNI already has several MVC honors racked up this week, featuring Scholar-Athlete of the Year pick Madison Weekly and many all-conference selections.

An automatic berth to the 2016 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship hangs in the balance. For a look at the tournament bracket, UNI’s first potential match-ups, and other information for this weekend’s tournament, read on:

2016 #HoopsInTheHeartland Bracket

2016 #HoopsInTheHeartland Bracket

No. 1 UNI Panthers (20-9 overall, 15-3 Missouri Valley [1st])
Last week: 73-64 win at Southern Illinois, 61-48 win at Evansville (REVIEW)
Preseason prognostication: 3rd/10 (one first-place vote), 23 points above #4 Southern Illinois
Highlighted stats: MVC-best active, overall eight-game win streak; Fifth in single-season free throw shooting (75.8%)
Spotlight: Sharnae Lamar, point guard that continually overcomes adversity

No. 8 Wichita State Shockers (8-21 overall, 5-13 Missouri Valley [8th])
Last week: 53-49 loss to Illinois State, 54-53 win over Indiana State (RECAP)
Preseason prognostication: 5th/10 (one first-place vote), 28 points above #6 Evansville
Highlighted stats: Swept by Bradley this season (50-44, 55-50); At least one victory in last seven MVC tournaments
Spotlight: Jaleesa Chapel, only Shocker on roster each of last two years

No. 9 Bradley Braves (8-21 overall, 4-14 Missouri Valley [9th])
Last week: 69-63 loss at Loyola (RECAP)
Preseason prognostication: 9th/10, 16 points behind #8 Loyola
Highlighted stats: 46 PPG allowed in MVC wins (64.8 PPG allowed in losses); 5th Opening Round game in last 6 years
Spotlight: Tamya Sims, an MVC All-Defensive Team selection

Panther radio broadcasts throughout the tournament can be heard via News/Talk 1540 KXEL, starting with 11:45am pregame coverage Friday. For more information, visit unipanthers.com. Thanks for reading, and have a happy tournament! U-N-I Fight! #UNIFight