Illinois State cruises past Southern Illinois 63-50 to move onto the Missouri Valley Conference championship game. 

ST. LOUIS – Illinois State is headed back to the MVC Championship game for the second time in three seasons.

The Redbirds will be facing No. 2 Wichita State.

Illinois State has split the two previous games this season versus the Shockers, both games being decided by double-digits.

Both teams finished the regular season with identical conference records of 17-1.

Wichita State defeated Bradley, 82-56, in the quarterfinal round and then defeated Missouri State, 78-63, in the semifinal round.

Illinois State’s route to the championship consisted of wins over Evansville, 80-69, and Southern Illinois, 63-50.

“They’ve got talented guys. They’ve got size. They’ve got athleticism and skill. We have the same. So it should be two heavyweights going at it, slug fest, and hopefully we make more plays than they do and shoot the ball well and have a better game plan and come out on top,” coach of the Shockers, Gregg Marshall said of the match-up.

The match-up features lots of firepower, with both teams reeling in MVC awards.

The Redbirds’ Paris Lee was named MVC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. While, Redbird head coach Dan Muller took home the Coach of the Year award.

Illinois State also had six players named to the other various All-Conference teams.

The Shockers feature MVC Freshman of the Year, Landry Shamet, while having seven other players named to various All-Conference teams.

Not to mention, Muller’s only competition this season for Coach of the Year came from Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall.

Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. from Scottrade Center.

Illinois State has come out and shown that they have the will to win this tournament. They’ve had multiple guys step up so far – Keyshawn Evans in the quarterfinals and MiKyle McIntosh looking like his old self in the semifinals. This team features four players who all played in the MVC Championship two years ago versus Northern Iowa and lost. This team has been there before and they have been on a mission all season long and they are now one win away from accomplishing that mission. This time, they’ll get the job done and cut down the nets. The Redbirds will be dancing this season and Dan Muller will return his alma mater to the NCAA Tournament since his senior year in 1997-98.

Predicition: Illinois State 62, Wichita State 57

Player of the game prediction: Tony Wills

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

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