Friday night’s Missouri Valley tournament quarterfinal between Northern Iowa and Drake has been canceled, and Drake will advance to Saturday’s semifinals, the league announced. The game was set to be the third of four for the day played at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis as the league moves toward crowning a champion — and an NCAA Tournament automatic qualifier — Sunday on CBS.
The cause for the cancelation was an issue with COVID-19 for UNI, Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported.
Beyond the revenue that it generates, this conference tournament is particularly important for the MVC, because both Drake and Loyola Chicago are on the NCAA Tournament bubble, according to Jerry Palm’s Bracketology. Under the most advantageous of circumstances for the conference, both teams could secure at-large bids and another team could win the league title to give the MVC three NCAA Tournament bids. However, both Loyola Chicago and Drake entered Friday as projected No. 12 seeds for the Big Dance with Drake considered one of Jerry Palm’s “last four in,” meaning the MVC could also be a just a one-bid league, depending on how things shake out.
Given the tenuous resumes of both Drake and Loyola Chicago, neither is in great position to withdraw from the tournament as a COVID-19 precaution and rest on the laurels of their current resume. But with the event taking place in a single arena, there will obviously be concerns about virus gaining a foothold in a way that could impair a program’s ability to continue with this postseason. In the semifinals, Drake will face the winner of Friday night’s scheduled final quarterfinal between Valparaiso and Missouri State.
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