During the month of January, Golfweek will preview the 2014 spring season for each conference. Check out all of the previews here.
Today, we look at the Missouri Valley Conference:
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5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Top of the class: Illinois State
• Player to watch: Louis Cohen Boyer, Wichita State. The junior is the conference’s highest-ranked player in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings at No. 145.
• Freshman to watch: Grant Bennett, Wichita State. The Shockers don’t have much consistency behind Boyer, but Bennett is the player most likely to change that this spring.
• Conference championship: April 28-29, TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Ill.
• Past champions (since 2009): Wichita State (2009-13)
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(Golfweek/Sagarin rank in parentheses)
- Illinois State (152): The Redbirds finished third twice during the fall, at the D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate and the Badger Invitational, and boast one of the most experienced teams in the conference with a lineup that includes junior Jordan Fahel, and seniors Parker Freiburg and Wils Hawn. Freshman Turner Reid led the team in scoring average during the fall.
- Wichita State (160): The Shockers, who have won every conference championship since 2008, played the toughest schedule in the conference and managed to notch a pair of top 5s. Junior Louis Cohen Boyer led the conference in scoring average (72) and added four top 10s in five fall events.
- Missouri State (199): A runner-up finish at the John Dallio Memorial was Missouri State’s only finish better than seventh during the fall. Sophomore Brik Brauburger was a bright spot.
- Northern Iowa (201): Northern Iowa recorded three top 5s in five fall tournaments. Senior Ryan Horner and sophomore Kyle Driscoll give this squad a nice one-two punch atop the lineup.
- Bradley (208): Bradley was one of two conference teams to notch a team victory during the fall as it captured the Butler Fall Invitational.
- Evansville (209): One thing that stood out during the fall was Evansville leading the conference in team scoring average (292.23), although the 232nd toughest schedule in the country could explain that.
- Loyola (220): Led by the experience of senior Alex Cusumano and junior Nick Dennis, Loyola notched a big victory at the D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate, finishing ahead of six conference foes, including Illinois State. But it went 0-3 against conference foes in its other six fall starts.
- Southern Illinois (225): The Salukis finished fourth, fourth and fifth in their final three fall events after a poor start that included going 1-8 against conference opponents their first two tournaments.
- Drake (249): The Bulldogs finished in the bottom three spots on the leaderboard in three tournaments during the fall.
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LANCE RINGLER’S TAKE
Wichita State has won the last six Missouri Valley Conference Championships and while the Shockers are not to be dismissed from making it No. 7 this spring at TPC Deere Run it has giving hope to a few other MVC schools of snagging the league’s AQ and playing in the postseason. Illinois State is the team with the best chance to knock Wichita State off.