St. Louis After 21 years, it may be Wichita State's time to be back on top.
The Shockers were picked to win the Missouri Valley Conference men's basketball championship for the first time since 1982-83 Tuesday in balloting by league media and sports information directors. Mark Turgeon is seeking to become the first coach in school history to improve in victories for four straight seasons and has four starters back.
Southwest Missouri State, which finished fourth in the Valley last year and then won the conference tournament, was picked to win the women's title.
Wichita State's men won 18 games last season, including the first victory over a ranked team since 1990-91, and finished third in the Valley to earn an NIT bid. That followed 15- and 9-win seasons in Turgeon's first two seasons.
"Four years ago we were picked 10th and I felt like I didn't even belong in the same room as the other teams, so it's kind of an honor to be picked first," said Turgeon, a former Kansas University player.
"Obviously, the last few years we've changed the perception at Wichita State."
Turgeon said Creighton coach Dana Altman deserved an assist after touting Wichita State all summer. Turgeon said Altman, who has led Creighton to five straight NCAA Tournament appearances, wanted someone else to feel the pressure.
"Dana bragged more about Wichita State this summer than anybody I've been around," Turgeon said. "So Dana, if I accidentally call you Dad you'll know why."