Shockers are clear MVC favorites

Wichita State's unbeaten 2013-14 regular season was a testament to the great talent the Shockers possessed, but it also required some cooperation from the rest of the Missouri Valley Conference. Northern Iowa and Indiana State figured to be the most likely teams to challenge Wichita State, but neither was expected to play at a level worthy of an at-large bid, and indeed that was the case.

This season, the league race will be more interesting. "More interesting" in this case might not equate to exciting, since the Shockers won the Valley by a whopping six games in 2014. But in particular, Northern Iowa returns its entire starting lineup, one that included two sophomores and a freshman last season. It's still Wichita State's conference to lose, and it might be the biggest favorite in the nation to win its conference. That said, expectations will be higher in Cedar Falls, Iowa, this season, and a few breaks here and there could make things a lot tighter at the top of the standings.

You'll notice in the following preview that the Valley is incredibly guard-heavy. While just about every team features a guard or two who is a high-volume scorer, there are very few wings or bigs who fit that description. To further illustrate that point, no conference in the country had a higher percentage of its shots come from 3-point range last season, and the conference ranked third from last in terms of offensive-rebound percentage. One doesn't need size to survive in the MVC.