While college basketball’s marquee conference tournaments don’t begin until next week, the undercard is already underway. The Atlantic Sun was the first of 13 conferences whose tournaments tip off this week.
Below is a look at the five biggest storylines from week one of conference tournament action:
1. Will Alec Peters be healthy enough to lead Valparaiso?
One of the great stories from this past summer was the loyalty Peters showed to Valparaiso. The heralded 6-foot-9 forward chose to stay with the Crusaders even after coach Bryce Drew left for Vanderbilt and dozens of high-major programs reached out through back channels urging him to consider leaving as a graduate transfer.
For months, it appeared Peters’ loyalty would be rewarded. He averaged 23 points and 10.1 boards to play his way into contention to be a first-round draft pick and to lead Valparaiso into position to win the Horizon League title. But then Peters suffered an unspecified lower leg injury that sidelined him for the Crusaders’ final two regular season games and has since thrown his availability for the Horizon League tournament into question.
Valparaiso (24-7, 14-4) is an experienced, postseason-tested team that would be a tough out in the NCAA tournament, but there’s little chance the Crusaders will get there if Peters either can’t play in the Horizon League tournament or is at less than full strength. They’ll likely have to get by a Green Bay team that upset them in the conference tournament last year just to earn the right to make the title game, where an Oakland team that beat them twice this season could be waiting.
2. Will Wichita State or Illinois State have a long wait for Selection Sunday?
On one side of the Arch Madness bracket is Illinois State, which used exceptional defense to pile up 25 wins and go 17-1 in the Valley. On the other side of the Arch Madness bracket is Wichita State, which won 27 games and also finished 17-1 in the Valley despite not having a senior in…