The 2018 NCAA DI season is here! There are so many questions going into the season beyond Who will win the National Championship and who will end up at Oklahoma City. Below we look at 18 of them.
No. 18: How much of an effect will Wichita State's Move to the American Athletic Conference (AAC) on the conference as well as the MVC?
2018 is a year of change for Wichita State as the Shockers are in the first season in the AAC. In the last six seasons, the Shockers made four MVC Tournament appearances (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017), one MVC Championship (2016) and one NCAA Regional appearance (2016). The Shockers were a consistent contender in their former conference. How will Wichita State do in the AAC? The AAC Coaches poll ranked them fifth heading into the season.
Meanwhile, the MVC replaced Wichita State with Valparaiso. The conference figures to be a one-bid league within the NCAA with Northern Iowa still winning the conference's regular-season title after a tiebreaker over Illinois State. From the conference tournament emerged Southern Illinois, who won the tournament title and earned the MVC's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Illinois State was invited to the NISC tournament. Look for one of those three to win MVC in 2018.
No. 17: Is USC-Upstate reign atop the A-Sun coming to an end?
USC Upstate is in their final season as a member of the A-SUN conference. They will be moving to the Big South in the fall of 2018. Upstate has had a significant impact on the conference having won three of the last four regular-season championships ( 2014, 2015, 2017) and the previous three Tournament Championships.
But the Spartans will for the first time in a while, not have experience in the pitching circle. Dueling pitching aces Holly McKinnon and Lexi Shubert both graduated following the 2017 season. The combo combined for 379 strikeouts and a 1.44 cumulative ERA over 370 innings of work in their respective senior campaigns. Their graduations leave Head Coach Chris Hawkins without an experienced hurler in the circle. That alone could make the Spartans vulnerable. Could Kennesaw State dethrone the Spartans? Kennesaw State returns the best pitcher in the conference in Alley Cutting.