Expectations for the Missouri State men’s basketball team aren’t nearly as high as what they were going into the season a year ago.
The Missouri Valley Conference announced Thursday that the Bears are picked to finish sixth in the league entering Dana Ford’s third season as head coach.
The selection comes a season after the Bears were picked to win the league but ultimately finished 16-17 with a 9-9 record in conference play to place sixth in the conference. Their season ended in the Arch Madness semifinals.
MVC PRESEASON POLL – POINTS (FIRST-PLACE VOTES)
- Northern Iowa – 426 (30)
- Loyola – 405 (13)
- Bradley – 341 (1)
- Indiana State – 282
- Southern Illinois – 235
- Missouri State – 210
- Drake – 207
- Valparaiso – 148
- Illinois State – 112
- Evansville – 54
Northern Iowa was selected to win the league for the first time in 11 seasons. Junior guard A.J. Green was selected as the preseason player of the year.
Missouri State features a revamped roster going into the 2020-21 season with seven active newcomers on scholarship. Notable new names include NJCAA First-Team point guard Demarcus Sharp along with an athletic forward in Keaton Hervey.
Gaige Prim returns for his senior season after earning third-team All-MVC honors at the end of last season. He was selected as a second-team preseason performer and was the lone Bear to make one of the three teams.
MVC PRESEASON TEAMS
- Elijah Childs, F, Sr., Bradley
- A.J. Green, G, Jr., Northern Iowa
- Tyreke Key, G, Sr., Indiana State
- Cameron Krutwig, C, Sr., Loyola
- Austin Phyfe, F, Jr., Northern Iowa
- Donovan Clay, G/F, So., Valparaiso
- Marcus Domask, F, So., Southern Illinois
- Jake LaRavia, G/F, So., Indiana State
- Roman Penn, G., Jr., Drake
- Gaige Prim, F, Sr., Missouri State
- Trae Berhow, G, Sr., Northern Iowa
- Keith Fisher III, F, Sr., Illinois State
- Tate Hall, G, Sr., Loyola
- Marquise Kennedy, G, So., Loyola
- Tremell Murphy, F, Sr., Drake
Prim will be joined by regular contributors in sophomores Isiaih Mosley and Ja’Monta Black. Former Kickapoo standout Jared Ridder will also return from injury.
The Bears’ non-conference schedule has yet to be released, but it will open conference play at Northern Iowa on Dec. 30. Non-conference play will begin no earlier than Nov. 25 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Missouri State’s 2020-21 MVC schedule
- Dec. 30 – @ Northern Iowa
- Jan. 2 – Evansville
- Jan. 7 – Loyola-Chicago
- Jan. 10 – @ Drake
- Jan. 13 – Southern Illinois
- Jan. 16 – @ Valparaiso
- Jan. 19 – @ Loyola-Chicago
- Jan. 23 – Illinois State
- Jan. 27 – Northern Iowa
- Jan. 31 – @ Indiana State
- Feb. 3 – @ Bradley
- Feb. 6 – Drake
- Feb. 10 – @ Illinois State
- Feb. 13 – Valparaiso
- Feb. 17 – Indiana State
- Feb. 20 – @ Evansville
- Feb. 24 – Bradley
- Feb. 27 – @ Southern Illinois
Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter at @WyattWheeler_NL. You can subscribe to his free “Bears Beat” newsletter on News-Leader.com. He’s also the co-host of Sports Talk on Jock Radio weekdays from 4-6 p.m.