Today's Missouri Valley Conference Tournament -- or, as I like to call it, "The Battle of Who Has the Flattest, Bleakest Landscape" -- has seen its completion, and your MVC Champs are the repeating Northern Iowa Panthers over Wichita State 67-52. Junior Guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe, aside from being my favorite character from Total Recall, led the Panthers with 24 points as his boys toyed with the Shockers before soundly putting them away and claiming their rightful trophy.
So get used to seeing the name Northern Iowa, because for the second year they'll be in your tournament bracket. We actually got to catch up with the plucky hawkeyes during the College Basketball Road Trip, and if you followed that you know that we're quite the fans of this team and its fans, from one of the loudest student sections you'll ever be completely surprised to happen upon to gritty Irish-Polish Lucas O'Rear off the bench for some muscle.
They're a good bunch of kids with a good staff behind them, and they're tougher than you might think. And somewhere tonight, Wichita State coach and regional State Farm agent of the year Gregg Marshall goes back to dreading March and the tornados he'll be soon watching roll across the prairie toward his freshly-bailed haystacks.
So another contender goes up on the board, and Sunday rolls along with mid-majors galore (look out, East Tennessee State). Of course, next weekend the party-crashers show up as the ranked giants show up and start hitting on Winthrop's girlfriend. But this weekend belongs to the little guy. It's like a high school band party right now -- next week it becomes a raging kegger.