Sep. 15—For the first time since the 1995-96 season, there is intrigue surrounding the release of the Missouri Valley Conference men's basketball schedule beyond what the order of the games will be.
With the MVC jumping up to a record-high 12 members in the 2022-23 season with the addition of Belmont, Murray State and Illinois-Chicago, the 18-game round robin schedule that the league once held so dear is a thing of the past.
The league will play a record-high 20-game conference schedule, but with 12 teams in the league? Two schools will appear on each schools' schedule just once.
On Thursday, Indiana State and the rest of the league found out whom they will only get one shot at.
For the Sycamores? The answer is Belmont and Bradley. ISU will play every other MVC school home-and-away, but the Sycamores will not make a trip to Bradley and Belmont will not come to Hulman Center.
Oddly, ISU has skipped a road trip to Bradley before in the rare times where the MVC hasn't had a round robin format. In 1996, the last time the MVC eschewed the round robin format as the league had 11 schools before Tulsa departed, ISU also did not travel to Peoria.
In 2021, ISU hosted Bradley twice at Hulman Center as teams skipped some road trips due to the COVID-19 pandemic raging at the time.
Without a Bradley road game, former Brave and current Sycamore Jayson Kent will have to wait a year for his return to his former home arena.
Belmont will not make a trip to Hulman Center during its maiden MVC voyage. ISU will play in Nashville at Belmont on Feb. 22.
The MVC schedule will feature two post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas games. ISU will host Drake, projected by many to be the MVC preseason favorite, on Nov. 30 and play at Southern Illinois on Dec. 7.
ISU opens the regular part of the MVC slate with a Dec. 29 home game against Evansville. ISU also closes the regular season at home against Missouri State on Feb. 26.
The trick for MVC teams was to avoid the expected contenders on their schedules. Drake, Southern Illinois, Bradley and Missouri State were the primary candidates to avoid.
Drake will only play Illinois State and Evansville once. Southern Illinois sees Valparaiso and Belmont once. Bradley avoids home-and-home's with ISU and Evansville. Missouri State matches up against Illinois State and Valparaiso only once.
On the other side of the coin, and on paper, Evansville and UIC were the teams MVC foes would want on their slate twice as they are expected to struggle. The Purple Aces play Drake and Bradley once. The Flames play Murray State and Northern Iowa once.
The MVC will announce the women's conference schedule Friday.