As of the July 1, Valparaiso officially became the next member of the Missouri Valley Conference.

The Crusaders are replacing Wichita State, who left for the American Athletic Conference.

Let’s just be honest, there is no replacing Wichita State.

Each year, at least for Redbird basketball fans, welcoming the Shockers led by Gregg Marshall was the biggest game of the year. Not to mention the success Illinois State had at defeating those Marshall-led Shockers at Redbird Arena.

The Shockers also brought national attention to the Valley year-in and year-out on the basketball court.

Marshall has led the Shockers to NCAA Tournament berths in each of the last six seasons, something irreplaceable to the Valley, if you ask me.

The Valley sent two teams to the NCAA’s in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016, but with the void the Shockers left, it is safe to say the Valley will be a one-bid league for the near future.

However, the move benefits the Shockers. After all, they bring back their entire roster from a season ago and bring in more young talent. Based off the dominance they showed last year, there’s a good possibility history would have repeated itself due to the fact the Shockers are so well-coached and just flat out more talented than most teams in the Valley.

Not to mention all the early polls have the Shockers as national championship contenders.

These are some big shoes to fill for the Crusaders, but dare I say they just might be able to make this transition work.

Sure, it won’t be right away. But given enough time, Valparaiso just might turn some heads.

The Crusaders have been a Division I athletic institution since 1978 and have accumulated a 634-552 record over said time-frame.

From a basketball-minded position, a transition to the Valley allows the Crusaders to contend for conference basketball titles and recruit at a higher level.

On the face of things, the Valley is an upgrade from the Horizon, allowing the recruiting trail to seemingly be on a higher level.

They might struggle to start, but Valparaiso is not the only addition to the Valley if I had to guess.

At some point, I see the Valley expanding to 12 teams and two divisions. But for now, the cards have been dealt and fans will have to deal with the hands they’ve been dealt.

The Crusaders are not the Shockers, but not many teams from any conference are the Shockers.

Valparaiso was a safe and quick addition for the time being, but expect more changes inside the Valley in short order.

Editor's Note: This story has been revised as of July 14 to correct previously incorrect information.

MICHAEL MARRA is Sports Editor for The Vidette. He can be contacted atvidette_mmarra@ilstu.edu Follow him on Twitter at @MikeMarraILSTU

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