A new journey awaits the Valparaiso University women’s basketball team as the Crusaders get set to begin their first season as members of the Missouri Valley Conference.
Fans can now mark their calendars for MVC play, as the conference released its women’s basketball schedule on Tuesday. The league follows a Friday/Sunday format for women’s games, with most league contests occurring on Fridays and Sundays. Travel partners are utilized for women’s basketball in The Valley, with Valpo pairing up with nearby Loyola for scheduling purposes.
Valpo’s first game in The Valley will occur on Dec. 29 at Drake, the beginning of a road swing that continues on Dec. 31 at UNI. The Crusaders will be tested right away, as Drake and UNI were the top two teams in the league in 2016-17. The Bulldogs went 28-5 overall and an unblemished 18-0 in the regular season, while UNI went 24-9 and 15-3 in conference play. The two teams faced off in the MVC Championship, with Drake prevailing in overtime, and both squads qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
The Crusaders will host their first MVC game at the Athletics-Recreation Center on Jan. 5 against Illinois State, before Bradley comes to town on Jan. 7. Both of those games will pit the Crusaders against teams they played as nonconference foes in 2016-17.
The Crusaders and Ramblers, who shared league affiliation as members of the Horizon League from 2006-2013, will square off for the first time as Valley foes on Jan. 12 at the ARC. Valpo owns an 18-5 edge in the all-time series with Loyola.
The Jan. 19-21 road trip will pit the Crusaders against a pair of first-time opponents. Valpo’s Jan. 19 game at Missouri State is its first against the Bears, and the same goes for the Jan. 21 contest at Southern Illinois.
The Crusaders round out the first half of Valley play facing off with a pair of instate foes – Evansville (Jan. 26) and Indiana State (Jan. 28). The second time through The Valley slate begins with three straight in the Land of Lincoln – at Bradley (Feb. 2), at Illinois State (Feb. 4) and at Loyola (Feb. 11). That stretch is followed by home dates against Southern Illinois (Feb. 16) and Missouri State (Feb. 18), then the final road trip of the year to Indiana State (Feb. 23) and Evansville (Feb. 25).
The Crusaders will finish out The Valley schedule the same way they start it, playing UNI (March 1) and Drake (March 3), this time at the ARC. An automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament will be up for grabs at Hoops in the Heartland, which will take place March 8-11 in Moline, Ill.