Northern Iowa is your Missouri Valley Conference champion and the Panthers will enter Arch Madness as the No. 1 seed.
But that doesn’t mean they’re the favorite to leave St. Louis with a March Madness bid. That distinction goes to Loyola-Chicago. The Ramblers are the fourth seed after a photo-finish race for the regular-season title.
In fact, UNI and Loyola played for the outright conference championship in the final game of the regular season. Northern Iowa’s 102-96 OT win Saturday secured the league crown. The Ramblers slipped into a three-way tie for second place with the loss.
Oddsmakers still like Loyola-Chicago in the MVC Tournament because a 14-2 start helped the Ramblers crack the AP top 25. A 4-3 finish to the regular season put the Ramblers on shaky ground for an NCAA at-large bid, however.
We’ll update the odds below. The numbers you see are as of Wednesday night:
|Team||FanDuel Sportsbook||PointsBet Sportsbook||Caesars Sportsbook||DraftKings Sportsbook||Unibet Sportsbook
BetRivers Sportsbook and
Arch Madness Seeds
- Northern Iowa — 14-4 (18-10 overall)
- Missouri State — 13-5 (22-9)
- Drake — 13-5 (22-9)
- Loyola-Chicago — 13-5 (22-7)
- Bradley — 11-7 (17-13)
- Southern Illinois — 9-9 (16-14)
- Valparaiso — 6-12 (13-17)
- Illinois State — 5-13 (12-19)
- Indiana State — 4-14 (11-19)
- Evansville — 2-16 (6-23)
How to watch Arch Madness
Let’s cross our fingers, but blackouts can be a big problem for early-round play at Arch Madness. The MVC Tournament opens Thursday night. ESPN+ streams the Thursday games as well as Friday’s quarterfinals.
Channel options in Iowa include Bally Sports Midwest, NBC Sports Chicago and Bally Sports Kansas City. But, again, blackouts loom for many of the games. The Bulls and Blackhawks also may push MVC games into tape delay on NBC Sports Chicago.
- 6 p.m. Thursday — Indiana State vs. Illinois State
- 8:30 p.m. Thursday — Evansville vs. Valparaiso
The MVC is a 10-team league, so Thursday’s winners get the last two quarterfinal spots.
Friday is the busiest day with four quarterfinal games at the Enterprise Center. It is also a persnickety day for blackouts in Iowa. Depending on your TV provider or internet location, you may not get to stream the UNI opener or the Drake nightcap without some VPN assistance.
- Noon Friday — Indiana St./Illinois State vs. Northern Iowa
- 2:30 p.m. — Bradley vs. Loyola-Chicago
- 6 p.m. — Evansville/Valparaiso vs. Missouri State
- 8:30 p.m. — Southern Illinois vs. Drake
Once Arch Madness reaches the weekend, your viewing options get much more accessible. CBS Sports Network has Saturday’s semifinals.
- 2:30 p.m. Saturday — Day session winners from Friday
- 5 p.m. Saturday — Night session winners from Friday
The Arch Madness championship game is 1 p.m. Sunday, March 6 on CBS.
What’s at stake for Drake and Northern Iowa
As we said, Loyola-Chicago is the only MVC team that entertains hopes for an at-large bid. Drake and UNI will need the MVC Tournament’s automatic bid to go dancing.
Northern Iowa has one advantage: Any regular-season champion that doesn’t win their conference tournament gets an automatic bid to the NIT. The Panthers will play on — no matter what happens in St. Louis.
NIT bracket projections do exist for at-large candidates like Drake and Missouri State. They both have resumes that will keep them in the discussion. By the way, they could face each other in the MVC semifinals.
Drake would also be a very appealing candidate for the CBI and a new postseason tournament called The Basketball Classic. We explored those options recently as well.