The two most successful teams in Missouri Valley Conference Tournament history find themselves facing a difficult road to get back to the championship.
The Drake women's basketball team enters as the ninth seed for the first time and will square off against eighth seed Missouri State (14-16), which has claimed a league-best nine MVC Tournament titles and 36 tourney wins, in the opening round Thursday at 4:05 p.m. in St. Charles, Mo.
The game will be broadcast for free at www.valley-live.tv/ as well as 1350 KRNT.
The winner advances to play top-seeded and co-MVC regular season champ Wichita State (21-9), which defeated the Bears 74-69 Saturday, in Friday's first quarterfinal at 12:05 p.m.
The Bulldogs, who are second in league history with five MVC Tournament titles and 34 wins, will try to replicate last year's postseason tear where they won three games in three days as the No. 7 seed to advance to the MVC Championship before losing the final to Creighton.
Drake (10-19) rides the resurgent play of junior Morgan Reid who has double-doubles in her last three games and four of the last five as the Bulldogs split their final six games to close the regular season.
Kyndal Clark leads Drake in scoring and is third in the conference at 14.8 points per game, while Reid is second on the team at 11.2 per outing.
Reid is ripping down a team-best 8.4 rebounds per game, ranking 3rd in the Valley.
Clark scored a combined 45 points in the teams' season split, with the home squad winning both meetings.
The Bears are looking to end a three-game slide behind Whitney Edie, who leads the squad in scoring (14.5) and rebounding (8.1), while ranking fifth in both categories in the conference.
Missouri State holds the upper hand 38-34 in the all-time series and is second in the MVC in scoring offense at 70.3 points per game, but also gives up 74.2 points per outing - second worst in the Valley.
The Bulldogs, who average 65.8 points a contest, will try to keep Missouri State in the 60's after winning the last meeting in Des Moines 75-64 on Feb. 14 -rebounding from an 80-77 defeat in Springfield, Mo. on Jan. 19.
The Bulldogs and Bears are more than familiar with one another in the MVC tourney facing off a league-high 12 times, with Missouri State winning eight.