Loyola-Chicago (10-21) vs. Indiana State (21-9)
GAME NOTES: The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament continues on Friday night at the Scottrade Center, as the 10th-seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers take on the second-seeded Indiana State Sycamores in the quarterfinals.
Awaiting the winner in the semifinal round will be either Southern Illinois or Northern Iowa.
Loyola was just 4-14 in conference play this season and was riding a six-game losing streak heading into the tournament, but it put its struggles behind it in the opening round with a dramatic 74-72 triumph over Bradley to improve to 10-21 overall.
Indiana State enjoyed a strong regular season at 21-9 overall, its best performance since the 2000-01 campaign, and at 12-6 in the MVC it finished two games up on Northern Iowa for the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. The Sycamores are sliding into this event however, having dropped each of their last three regular-season bouts.
The Sycamores claimed both matchups over Loyola during the regular season to improve their standing in the all-time series to 10-7.
The Ramblers were locked up in a tight battle with Bradley on Thursday night, but after coughing up the lead in the final minute, they redeemed themselves when Milton Doyle drained the game-winning 3-pointer as time expired. They finished the contest shooting a lofty 52.2 percent from the field, including 8-of-14 from 3-point range, and their bench outscored Bradley's reserves, 19-3. Doyle led the charge with 19 points, Devon Turk and Jeff White netted 14 points apiece and Christian Thomas added 12 points to the winning effort.
On the season, Loyola has grown accustomed to solid field goal shooting numbers, as it shoots 46.6 percent, but that production has only resulted in 65.9 ppg, which is not enough to support its modest defensive pressure (.453, 68.5 ppg). Doyle leads the way with 15.3 ppg but has nearly as many turnovers (108) as assists (109). Thomas is a mainstay in the paint with 13.4 ppg and 6.3 rpg while shooting 54.1 percent from the field, while White (9.7 ppg) and Turk (8.8 ppg) have also been solid.
With their status as the No. 2 seed locked up regardless of the outcome in the regular-season finale, the Sycamores played with less urgency and in turn fell on the wrong end of a two-point decision. Even though they outshot UNI from the field, 48.1 percent to 41 percent, they were outscored from 3-point range (30-21) and lost the turnover battle (10-5). Jake Odum paced the losing effort with 16 points and five assists, Khristian Smith netted 15 points off the bench, Manny Arop tallied a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds and Dawon Cummings also scored 10.
Indiana State has performed well on both ends of the court this season, shooting 45.3 percent from the field for 71.3 ppg, while allowing just 67.8 ppg on 43.9 percent shooting. It also lives in the green in terms of its rebounding (+1.1) and turnover (+0.5) margins. Odum contributes across the board with 13.0 ppg, 4.6 apg, 4.2 rpg and 1.0 spg. Smith (11.1 ppg), Arop (11.0 ppg), Cummings (10.2 ppg) and Justin Gant (9.8 ppg) are also integral pieces to ISU's puzzle.
Loyola is riding high after its dramatic win, and Indiana State may be vulnerable to an upset after closing out the regular season on a sour note. Still, it is more likely the Sycamores return to form here.
GAME NOTES: The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament continues on Friday
night at the Scottrade Center, as the 10th-seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers take
on the second-seeded Indiana State Sycamores in the quarterfinals.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Scottrade Center (22,000) -- St. Louis, Missouri.
Television: MVC TV, FSN-MW. Home Record: Loyola 8-6, ISU 11-2. Away Record:
Loyola 0-14, ISU 9-6. Neutral Record: Loyola 2-1, ISU 1-1. Conference Record:
Loyola 4-14, ISU 12-6. Series Record: Indiana State leads, 10-7.Game Date and Time
Friday, March 7, 7:05 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Indiana State 72, Loyola-Chicago 62