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ST. LOUIS – Drake, which clinched its sixth Missouri Valley Conference women's basketball regular-season title in program history, has earned the No. 1 seed in next week's MVC tournament.

The 22nd-ranked Bulldogs finished the regular season with a record of 25-4, including the conference's first ever perfect 18-0 mark in league play. Drake closed out the season on a 19-game winning streak.

Northern Iowa (15-3 MVC) and Missouri State (12-6 MVC) are the second and third seeds, respectively. The Panthers won 20 games for the second straight year, while the Lady Bears enter the tournament as the defending tourney champions. Southern Illinois (10-8 MVC) and Wichita State (9-9 MVC) earned the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, respectively.

The Salukis have won four straight entering the tournament, while the Shockers earned a top-five finish for the sixth time in seven years. SIU swept Wichita State this season. 

This year's tournament - the 10th neutral-site event in the conference's history - begins on Thursday at the iWireless Center in Moline. The top seed has won the conference tournament in 17 of 31 seasons and a team that has won or shared the regular-season title has gone on to win the tournament title 20 times. Top seeds have five runner-up finishes.

Teams seeded second have won the tournament four times and finished as the runner-up 11 times.

The tournament, which features nine games over four days, culminates on Sunday with a the title game at 2 p.m. All the games will air on ESPN3.

Missouri State has won the most MVC tournament titles, 10, of any Valley school, its last coming last year. Drake has claimed five tournament titles. Illinois State won the league's first tournament title in 1983.

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Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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