With the month of March on the horizon, the madness that is the culmination of the college basketball season is sure to follow. Last March proved to be a memorable one for both the Illinois State men’s and women’s basketball programs and this year is expected to be much of the same.

The 2009 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament marks the 19th-consecutive year the league championship will be held in St. Louis and the 15th year in a row at Scottrade Center. The nation’s second-longest running conference tournament held at a neutral site, “Arch Madness” exceeds attendance expectations each year and annually ranks among the country’s top-10 events, with crowds averaging over 13,000 per session. “Arch Madness” takes place March 5-8.

Last season, the Redbirds advanced to the title game before making a postseason run in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). This season, led by Valley Preseason Player of the Year Osiris Eldridge and Oregon-transfer Chamberlain “Champ” Oguchi, the Redbirds started the season with one of the nation’s longest winning streaks and are expected to make a run for the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Speaking of NCAA Tournament, that is just where the ISU women’s basketball team advanced last season after winning both the Valley’s regular-season and tournament championships. The Redbirds look to repeat that feat during the 2009 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament, as the four-day tourney will feature all 10 league schools at The Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.

Now in its 14th year of existence, the State Farm MVC Women’s Basketball Tournament has truly become a weekend event. In 2008, nearly 10,000 fans attended the league’s first-ever neutral site event at The Family Arena. The tournament weekend begins March 12 and concludes with the championship game on March 15. Plan on attending the pre- and post-game parties in the Millennium Hotel lobby, beginning after the Redbirds’ first game.

Illinois State alumni are encouraged not to miss out on what has become a pair of the best tournaments in all of college basketball. Order your tickets now for two truly fabulous weekends in St. Louis and help “Spread the Red.” To order, click on Tickets.