Week 13 Summary, Updated Power Rankings, Mid Major Tidbits
If you put together a college basketball squad exclusively made of MVC players who missed significant time due to injury or other circumstance, you would have a top ten NCAA team. Tank Hemphill, Roman Penn, Elijah Childs, Terry Nolan, Danya Kingsby, Ari Boya, Marcus Domask, Antwan Kimmons, and AJ Green is a hell of a roster. Throw in unexpected (or at least somewhat unexpected) transfers like JFL and Liam Robbins, and you might have a national championship contender on your hands. As the Valley limps into the final week of the regular season clinging to the hope of two bids, we got more bad news on the injury front with Drake’s Roman Penn declared out for the season. Between injuries and suspensions, four teams are now playing without their best player. That said, it is still a very exciting time to be an MVC fan. Two teams are tied atop the league going into the final weekend, and no one has locked themselves into Thursday just yet. I can’t remember a time where everyone still had a shot at the top six with two games to go. It should be a fun couple weekends for MVC fans.
Week 13: MVC Power Rankings
1.) #21 Loyola, 19-4, 14-2, NET 11, BPI 16 (No Change): It wasn’t pretty, but Loyola survived their lone contest this week and remains on pace for an NCAA Tournament berth regardless of what happens next weekend in St. Louis. The Ramblers remain ranked in both polls (up to #21 in the AP and steady at #22 in the coaches) and are listed as an 8-seed in bracketology, up a notch from last week and safely “in” on the S-curve. The maroon and gold can clinch at least a share of their third MVC regular season title in four years and the top seed at Arch Madness with wins this weekend. They’ve already clinched a top-two seed for the fourth consecutive season. All that said, Wednesday’s home game against Valpo was ugly. In the first half, Loyola went over seven game minutes without scoring. Fortunately for them, Valpo was only able to muster five points themselves during that run. At the 8:14 mark of the first half Loyola had only scored nine points and was being outscored 15-9. They trailed by 3 at halftime. The second half was a very slow back and forth sludge. Loyola reclaimed the lead, Valpo got it back, Loyola got it back again, then it was Valpo, then Loyola. Valpo had the lead again, 48-46 with just under five minutes to play. The Ramblers went on a game-defining 8-0 run capped by a Cameron Krutwig sky hook to take a 54-48 lead with 1:39 left. They hung on for dear life from there, as they were unable to score again but still pulled out the win with a late defensive stop, 54-52. Keith Clemons led the way with 16 points and 5 rebounds for the Ramblers. Loyola has Southern Illinois at home on Friday and Saturday and can clinch the 1-seed at Arch Madness and likely an NCAA Tournament spot with two wins.
2.) Drake, 23-2, 14-2, NET 34, BPI 64 (No Change): Drake’s season is starting to look eerily similar to the 2018-19 campaign that saw the Bulldogs withstand several injuries to key players ‘en route to a share of the league title with Loyola. This week Roman Penn joined Tank Hemphill on the injury list after suffering a season ending injury midweek against Evansville. With their top two players now likely out for the remainder of the season (there is a chance Hemphill could return for the postseason) Drake is going to have to find a way to get through this final weekend of games and Arch Madness with their NCAA Tournament hopes still intact. Right now, DU is listed as a 10-seed in bracketology. It is tough to see where they fit in the at-large conversation since they’re weirdly listed as the AQ for the MVC, but the ten line is where Louisville and Maryland (listed as the 7th and 8th to last teams in) are located so you can assume they are somewhere around there. In other words, they are very much on the bubble and probably need to sweep Bradley this weekend in Peoria to feel great about their at-large chances. The Bulldogs opened the week with a Wednesday game on the road against their in-state rivals from Cedar Falls. Drake had to battle the Panthers hard for about 27 minutes before they broke away for a relatively easy victory. UNI had the upper hand for the first ten minutes, leading 20-15 with ten minutes to go in the first half. The Bulldogs were able to hold UNI to just three points over the final five minutes of the half for a 31-30 lead at the break. The game continued at that pace for the early part of the second half until the 13:23 mark when UNI tied the game at 45. At that point, Drake went on a 15-4 run to open up a 60-49 lead and controlled the game from there, winning 77-69. The Bulldogs shot exactly 50% despite the absence of Tank Hemphill and with Roman Penn playing most of the game with an injury. Joseph Yesufu scored 20 off the bench while shooting 4-8 from deep for Drake. Garrett Sturtz added 19 for the Bulldogs who only turned the ball over five times the entire game. Drake hosted Evansville next and although they won the first game, they paid a terrible price as Roman Penn’s season-ending injury occurred in the second half. That didn’t slow down the Bulldogs in this game, though. It was close for about six and a half minutes before Drake took over. They went on an 11-0 run midway through the first half to take a 23-13 lead, and the ensuing UE basket was the last time the Aces had the game within single digits. There weren’t very many prolonged runs, but Drake just consistently outplayed UE. At one point the Bulldogs built a 31-point lead before cruising to an 85-71 win. Joseph Yesufu was the leading scorer for the second consecutive game, going off for 32 on 12-14 shooting (5-7 from deep) as DU shot 65% as a team. The performance earned Yesufu a starting spot in Penn’s absence in the second game against UE, and he ran with the opportunity. Drake swept the Aces with a 74-63 win. In their first full game without Penn, Drake got off to an unsteady start as Evansville led at the break 35-31. With the Aces leading 39-38 early in the second half, Drake outscored them 21-7 over the next 12 minutes to take control of the game. Evansville’s 12-minute run with seven points included a 6-minute phase where they did not score a basket. Yesufu led the Dogs in scoring for the third game in a row with 36 GD points on 11-18 shooting and 5-8 from deep. His emergence might be what saves DU. Drake’s at-large chances are on the line this weekend with games at Bradley on Friday and Saturday. The status of Bradley’s suspended trio might have a lot to do with whether the league gets multiple bids this year.
3.) Missouri State, 15-5, 11-5, NET 85, BPI 121 (No Change): Missouri State extended its winning streak to six, clinched a top four seed, improved its record against teams below them in the standings to 11-1 and just generally kept on trucking with a road win in their lone game this week. Gaige Prim was the story in this one as MSU controlled the game at Southern Illinois from the tip. MSU had already built a 14-0 lead over the Salukis by the 15:42 mark. SIU, playing yet again without Marcus Domask, played a little better from that point on, but could never really get back in the game. The closest they came was the 8:02 mark in the first half when they cut the lead to eight at 24-16. But MSU outscored the Salukis 12-6 over the remainder of the period to head into halftime with a commanding 36-22 lead. SIU went on a five-minute scoring drought early in the second half that allowed the Bears to extend the lead to 20, 46-26, and they cruised to the finish from there, winning 68-53. Gaige Prim was unstoppable scoring 29 points and grabbing an astronomical 21 rebounds (and added six assists and three blocks for good measure). Mosley, by contrast, was very pedestrian with 8 points and four boards. MSU heads to Evansville on Friday and Saturday to play two games that probably are more important to the Aces than the Bears, especially if MSU clinches the 3-seed with a win in game one. They may have the opportunity to rest some guys on Saturday.
4.) Indiana State, 13-8, 10-6, NET 118, BPI 158 (No Change): Indiana State kept on trucking along with their ninth win in ten tries as they clinched a top-four seed at Arch Madness with their home win against Evansville. The Sycamores can still get as high as the 3-seed but will need help from said Purple Aces to make it happen. Indiana State led the Aces for most of the game but could never quite shake them until late. It looked like it might be a blowout early, as ISU led 16-6 just under seven minutes into the game. UE rallied to keep it between one or two possessions for most of the first half, and the two teams went into the locker room with the Trees leading 39-32. The early part of the second half was Evansville’s best stretch of the game as they got as close as one point three times. With the score 61-60 ISU with 10:28 left, the Sycamores put their final stamp on the game. They went on a quick 10-0 run to increase the lead to 71-60 with 8:11 to go, and walked it in from there, ultimately winning 87-73. Tyreke Key had probably his best game of the season, dropping 34 points on 14-20 shooting and 5-7 from deep. Tre Williams added 23 as the pair combined to score 65% of the team’s points. Indiana State will play at Valpo Friday and Saturday and are probably locked into the 4-seed regardless, although they could jump to #3 with some unexpected help. We’ll see if ISU plays both games 100% or rests some guys before Arch Madness, especially if they are out of the running for the 3-seed on Saturday.
5.) Valparaiso, 9-16, 6-10, NET 229, BPI 246 (Up One): VU went 1-2 on the weekend, and squandered a chance to more-or-less lock down a top six seed with their final game at Southern Illinois on Sunday. Still, they control their own destiny for a top six spot and the teams behind them will be reliant upon Valpo to take Ls this weekend and open the door. VU went to Rogers Park for a midweek tilt with Loyola, and it was an encouraging performance despite the loss. The brown and gold already put a damper on Drake’s at-large chances by beating them last week, and they attempted to really play MVC spoiler with this one. Valpo held the Ramblers scoreless for a seven-minute stretch in the first half, and Loyola remained in single digits until the 8-minute mark of the first half. VU was only able to score 15 points themselves in that period, however, and had a small 15-9 lead. The lead was 29-26 at the break, as a Valpo scoring drought let Loyola back into the game. It was a back-and-forth second half. With five minutes to go, Valpo led 48-46 but went on another four-minute drought at the worst possible time. By the time they scored again, they trailed 54-50 with 1:23 left. Loyola got a big stop late on defense to hold on to the win over VU, 54-52. Zion Morgan put together his best performance of the year scoring 15 points in the loss. Valpo inched closer to the top six and play-in game avoidance with an exciting win in Carbondale on Sunday. This one was close throughout the first half as VU’s six-point lead at 5:52 in the first was the largest lead for either team. SIU closed the half with their largest lead, 39-34, after finishing the half on a 15-4 run. The Salukis held the lead for most of the second half, although their margin was never bigger than seven early on in the half. For the most part SIU held a one or two possession lead. Valpo finally tied it up at 61 with 5:44 to go, and took the lead moments later on a basket by Donovan Clay. A three-pointer by Jacob Ognacevic gave VU a 3-point lead, and after Anthony D’Avanzo got SIU within one at the 3:39 mark……..no one scored again. They took a TV timeout and apparently put lids on the basket. Both teams had four more chances to score and neither did, which left Valpo as 66-65 winners. Donovan Clay and Jake Ognacevic led Valpo with 15 points apiece, as VU committed just six turnovers on the game and put themselves on the cusp of qualifying for the top 6. They missed their chance, however, to all-but clinch the top six with a 67-64 loss to the Salukis the next day. It was looking good early on as VU jumped out to a 15-6 lead just over five minutes in. However, by the 9:46 mark of the first half SIU had taken the lead and would keep it for the remainder of the game. SIU outscored Valpo 24-11 over the last fifteen minutes of the first half to take a 30-26 halftime lead, and both teams missed an opportunity by only scoring 2 points each over the final 8+ minutes of the half (and none over the final 4:53). A 13-2 run early in the second half gave SIU a 12-point lead. The lead was 59-49 with seven minutes to go when both teams went dry. The teams combined for three free throws over the next six minutes, and although Valpo rallied very late, SIU mostly made their free throws down the stretch for the ugly 67-64 win. Ben Krikke was the only Valparaisian in double-figures with 15. Despite the loss, Valpo is still in the driver’s seat for play-in avoidance. Two wins at home against Indiana State on Friday and Saturday would clinch, and even a split would probably get it done as well. We’ll see how hard ISU pushes it, especially on Saturday when their Arch Madness seed could be wrapped up already.
6.) Evansville, 8-14, 6-10, NET 240, BPI 269 (Down One): Evansville has officially fallen back into the play-in avoidance ruckus after three more losses last week pushed their losing streak to six (they’ve also lost nine out of eleven). Despite this, sweeps of Valpo and UNI have kept the Aces in the driver’s seat when it comes to play-in avoidance as they are still a game ahead of the bottom four and have key tiebreakers over both teams. While they have the inside track to avoid Thursday, the computers don’t love UE as they are now last in the MVC in both metrics used by this site (NET and BPI). The Aces opened the weekend with a trip to Terre Haute and a chance to get a measure of revenge for their home loss to Indiana State three days earlier. They did not succeed. The Trees got off to an early 16-6 lead and although the Aces kept it close, they trailed for the remainder of the game. UE cut the lead to 24-21 at 7:08 left in the first, but ISU gained more separation before the half to take a 39-32 lead into the break. UE played well to start the second half, cutting the ISU lead to one four times (54-53, 56-55, 58-57 and 61-60). However they were never able to get over the hump. Indiana State knuckled down and controlled the game from there, outscoring Evansville 26-13 over the final ten minutes for an 87-73 win. Jawaun Newton paced UE with 18 points. The Aces suffered another fourteen-point loss on Sunday at Drake, although this one played out very differently. Where the ISU game was close for most of the way before ISU pulled away, UE had to go on a run late in this one just to keep the score respectable. After keeping the game close for just over 6 minutes, Drake went on an 11-0 run to open a ten-point lead, and after the teams traded baskets Drake never led by less than double-digits again. Without going on any huge runs the Bulldogs were able to slowly extend the lead to as much as 31 at 79-48 with 8:30 to go. UE outscored Drake 23-6 over the last eight minutes but still got beaten badly. The Aces leading scorer was Shamar Givance with 19 points. UE shot over 50% but were just 5-21 from deep and allowed Drake to shoot over 65%. The week ended with yet another loss to the shorthanded Bulldogs, 74-63. UE took advantage of the absence of Roman Penn (as well as Tank Hemphill) and held a 35-31 halftime lead. It disappeared in the second half, however, as UE was outscored 21-7 over a twelve minute stretch that saw them fail to make a single basket for six minutes. By that time Drake had a 13-point lead with just over five minutes left and they would cruise to the 11-point win. Shamar Givance led UE with 17 points. Both teams played all their starters for a ton of minutes (except Darnell Brodie who only logged eight for Drake). UE’s hopes to avoid the play-in round for the first time since 2016 now hinge upon their games at Missouri State on Friday and Saturday. Two wins would do it for sure, and there is a good chance one win would be enough as well. Even in the event they lose both, their sweeps of Valpo and UNI could come in handy and still get them in. MSU could have the three-seed wrapped up and could rest some guys on Saturday to the Aces benefit as well.
7.) Southern Illinois, 11-11, 5-11, NET 234, BPI 264 (No Change): The Salukis continued to have a rough go of it without Marcus Domask, losing two out of three games this week. Both of their last two with Valpo could have gone either way, and their win on Monday got them out of the cellar. While they still have a mathematical chance to avoid Thursday, it would require a win…..probably multiple wins……at Gentile Arena this weekend which doesn’t seem likely. There isn’t much to say about the Salukis’ midweek game against Missouri State. It was a blowout in every sense of the word. The Bears led 14-0 less than five minutes into the game. SIU was able to chip away at the lead for a time, cutting the deficit to 24-16 with eight minutes to go in the half. Unfortunately for SIU, that was the high point. MSU was able to extend the lead back to fourteen by halftime, 36-22. The Bears built the lead up to as much as 21, taking a 49-28 with 12:21 to go. The game was uneventful from there and MSU held on to win 68-53. Lance Jones led Saluki scorers with 13 points. SIU hosted Valpo for a pair in Carbondale that dripped with bottom four avoidance implications. The Salukis lost a heartbreaker in the first contest 66-65 when both teams forgot to play the final minutes and the score reverted to the final TV timeout. The game was close in the first half, as SIU had their biggest lead of the game at 39-34 at halftime after going on a 15-4 run to end the period. The Salukis were able to maintain the lead for most of the second half, but rarely extended it beyond one or two possessions. Valpo finally tied the game, and then took the lead with 4:34 to go. After the Salukis answered to tie on a basket by Kyler Filewich, Valpo hit a three to take the lead back. Anthony D’Avanzo scored to get the game within one with 3:39 to go. After that both teams had the ball four more times but neither was able to score. Steven Verplancken got the ball deep near the basket in the final seconds, but his shot was short and Valpo hung on for the win. Only seven Salukis played in the game, and Anthony D’Avanzo led the squad with 16 points. For the fourth weekend in a row, SIU was able to salvage a W for the week on getaway day. It didn’t look good for them early on, as they trailed 15-6 just over five minutes into the game. However, SIU would take the lead for good at the 9:46 mark when they scored to take a 23-21 advantage. The teams combined for two points over the final eight minutes of the first half and SIU led by four at the break. Southern Illinois went on a 13-2 run early in the second half to open a 45-33 lead. Ben Harvey made a layup with 7:34 to go to give SIU a 59-49 lead, and that would be SIU’s final made basket of the game. They were only able to score one point over the next six plus minutes of play, but held on with tough defense. Valpo got within three, but SIU mostly made their free throws down the stretch to seal the win, 67-64. It is unlikely SIU will win both games at Loyola on Friday and Saturday this weekend. If they do, they probably deserve top six (although they would still need help to get in).
8.) Illinois State, 7-15, 4-12, NET 218, BPI 243 (Up Two): The Redbirds have started to look like a basketball team lately. They put on one of their best performances of the year at Bradley last Wednesday against their rival Braves. Although BU was shorthanded, don’t call it a fluke because the win gave Illinois State a SWEEP of their central Illinois rivals. ISU led from the jump, outscoring BU 13-2 over the game’s first five minutes. The Braves recovered to nearly even the gap, getting to within one point twice in the first half. The middle part of the game was very close, with ISU holding the lead throughout until Bradley tied it at 49 with 13:46 on the clock. That was the high point for BU as the Redbirds took over from there. They went on a quick 11-0 run to take a 60-49 lead and never looked back, crusing to an 88-71 win. Emon Washington has become a big contributor for ISU and he scored 20 points and nabbed 8 rebounds (leading the team in both categories). They shot 57% while only committing seven turnovers. The Redbirds have now won two of three and have been very competitive in several other recent games. At 4-12, it will be tough to get out of the play-in zone (but not impossible), however they have the opportunity to avoid the cellar with a good weekend on Friday and Saturday at home against UNI.
9.) Northern Iowa, 7-15, 5-11, NET 203, BPI 191 (Down One): UNI hosted Drake in their lone game last week, giving the Bulldogs a run before ultimately falling short. The Panthers had the lead early, taking an 11-5 advantage after four minutes of play. Drake quicky evened it up, and the teams spent the first half trading the lead. UNI made just two baskets over the final seven minutes of the half, as they are want to do, and went into the break trailing 31-30. The game remained close for the first part of the second half and a Bowen Born 3-pointer tied the game at 45 with 13:23 to go. A 15-4 Drake run ensued to give the ‘Dogs a 60-49 lead that they would not relinquish. UNI would get no closer than six from that point on and Drake went on to win 77-69. The loss puts UNI on the cusp of the play-in round, as they would need two wins this Friday and Saturday at Illinois State and some help to dig out of the bottom four. Conversely if the Panthers can’t win at least one game in Normal against the suddenly confident Redbirds they could find themselves in the cellar for the first time since 2001.
10.) Bradley 11-14, 5-11, NET 172, BPI 137 (Down Two): Last week before their weekend series with Missouri State, Bradley announced the suspensions of four players for the series including Elijah Childs, Terry Nolan, Ja’Shon Henry and Danya Kingsby. The official explanation was that the quartet violated team rules. But this week we found out that Ja’Shon Henry was cleared of the police investigation which created more questions than answered. Henry was allowed to return to the team, but the other three remained suspended for a “sex offense that was not rape”. On the court, Bradley was unable to account for the missing trio as they got beat by their rivals Illinois State for the second time this season. Illinois State jumped out to a quick 13-2 lead and never trailed in this one. Bradley was able to keep it close for a little over a half. It was a one possession game for most of the middle part of the game, as ISU had a 35-32 halftime lead and the Braves tied it up at 49 with 13:46 to go. From there, the Redbirds went on a very quick 11-0 run to take a 60-49 lead and the game was not close after that. The final score was 88-71 and the newly returned Ja’Shon Henry led the team with 15 points. Bradley still has a chance to dig themselves out of Thursday with a good performance at home against Drake on Friday and Saturday (and a little help from MSU or Indiana State). They can certainly beat the depleted Bulldogs at home if they are back to full strength, but that is starting to look unlikely. With so many question marks for both teams and so much on the line, BU/DU lines up to be one of the more interesting series of the weekend.
MID MAJOR TIDBITS
Alright ya’ll. I have been spending way to much time on this portion of the write-up. This week is going to be an abridged version that only deals with teams that could make the dance as an at-large, a couple other teams I find interesting, and of course Our Lady of the Lake. If there is a huge demand for the longer version of this part, let me know and I’ll bring back the full version for the final week. Rankings are listed as (BPI/NET).
-Houston (4/7): The Cougars took an L at Wichita before rebounding to beat Cincinnati. The one-time 1-seeds fell to the 3-line in bracketology after the loss to the Shockers.
-Wichita State (68/98): The Shockers are now technically winning the American and are listed on bracketology as a 12-seed with the conference’s automatic bid. That is the same line as the final at-large bids and top automatic qualifiers (Belmont and Toledo). They have a big bubbly one this weekend against SMU. Go Mustangs.
-SMU (48/59): More games were cancelled this week and they now have not played since February 8th. They are currently the sixth team out in bracketology. They have a big one on Sunday at Wichita on the schedule. The winner will be the #2 AAC team on the list. Go Mustangs.
-Memphis (54/61): The Tigers are nowhere to be seen in bracketology at this time. A win over Houston to end the season might get them in the running.
-VCU (67/35): The Rams got a huge win against Richmond midweek, but slipped up against George Mason over the weekend. They are now tied with Saint Bonaventure atop the A-10 and are currently listed as an 11-seed and the fifth-to-last team in (and the last one to avoid the First Four) in bracketology. They have a shot at two good wins at Saint Louis and vs. Davidson this before their season wraps up with the league tournament next week.
-Saint Bonaventure (45/37): The Bonnies beat Davidson to climb into a tie with VCU atop the A-10. They are currently listed as an 11-seed and the A-10’s AQ. That seed line would put them somewhere in the “third to sixth-to-last team in” range on bracketology.
-Saint Louis (37/48): The Billikens loss to Dayton hurts, since they have played so few games, although they did beat La Salle. Big ones with VCU and Richmond await this week. They are the fifth team out in bracketology right now.
-Richmond (52/58): The Spiders returned to A-10 play after a 20+ day layoff and lost at VCU before recovering to beat Duquesne. Friday’s game at Saint Lou is their last chance for a big win before the A-10 Tournament. They are currently the fourth team out in bracketology, one spot behind Duke and one spot ahead of conference mates Saint Louis who they play this week.
-Davidson, UMass and Dayton are good teams that are not in the NCAA discussion.
-Western Kentucky (80/76): There are several Top 100 caliber teams in the C-USA, but the only one even in the NCAA discussion is Western Kentucky. The squad already has wins over Memphis, Rhode Island and Alabama and recently scheduled a game against Houston on the road for this week. If they don’t beat the Cougars, they’re probably not getting in (their current listing as a 13-seed in bracketology has them well off the bubble). But if they do win, it gets real interesting. A great opportunity awaits.
-UAB, North Texas, La Tech and Marshall are all good teams, but are not in the NCAA at-large discussion. Any of them could make a run if they get in with the automatic bid, though.
-Boise State (40/32): It was a good weekend for Boise State who took over first place in the league with a sweep of Utah State. They are in very good shape to get in, and would essentially sew up a spot with at least split of #22 San Diego State this weekend. Right now, they are listed as a 10-seed and the MWC AQ in bracketology. The other ten seeds are Drake, Louisville and Maryland, the latter two of which are listed as the seventh and eighth to last teams in. So, they are on the strong side of the bubble right now.
-#22 San Diego State (21/24): Their two wins over Fresno moved them into a tie for second place and they host Boise State for a shot at the league title this weekend. They already have wins over UCLA and Arizona State and a split with the Broncos would move them into lock territory, but they are still in decent shape if they lose both. As of right now bracketology has them comfortably in and playing Loyola as a 9-seed in round one. That would be a fun mid-major game, but let’s give both teams a shot at a P6 why don’t we?
-Colorado State (76/46): Tied with the Aztecs for second is Colorado State who has not played since February 6th. They are about as bubbly as it gets as they are currently listed as the very last team in the field in bracketology, and are scheduled to play Air Force this weekend. If they avoid a trip up, a decent MWC Tournament performance would probably get them in.
-Utah State (51/55): The Aggies took it on the chin with two losses to Boise this week. They have an opportunity for decent wins against Nevada this week and probably need to win both to stay on the bubble. They are currently listed as the seventh team out in bracketology.
-Nevada is having a good year but is not in contention for the NCAAs.
-Gonzaga (2/1): Still undefeated and still a lock for a 1-seed.
-BYU (27/22): The Cougars avoided any trouble this week with two easy wins over Pacific and Loyola Marymount. If they navigate their last two games this week, both tricky ones against San Francisco and Saint Marys, they are probably a lock. Even a split puts them in good shape at this point. They moved up to a 7-seed in bracketology this week.
-Saint Mary’s, San Francisco and Loyola Marymount have had good years, but aren’t in the running.
-Summit League: The three-way title race between three Dakota schools should come down to the final weekend. South Dakota beat Oral Roberts (with the second game of the series cancelled) to pull into a half game lead over NDSU at 10-3 vs 10-4. NDSU split with SDSU to put the Jackrabbits at 7-3. USD plays NDSU this weekend in Vermillion. A sweep by USD wins them the title, while a sweep by the Bison clinches it for them. If the Bison sweep, SDSU could still tie by percentage points by sweeping UMKC. A split between NDSU and South Dakota eliminates the Bison, as USD would be a half game ahead. In that scenario, though, USD would have a .733 winning percentage and SDSU could pass them with two victories, although they would fall short with a split of their own. Other MVFC schools in the league are North Dakota in sixth and Western Illinois in seventh. Right now, South Dakota is listed as the AQ in bracketology playing North Carolina A&T in a 16-seed First Four game.
-Winthrop (95/70) still has just one loss and is a 13-seed in bracketology. Will be an interesting team to follow in March.
-Belmont (73/63) is also a one-loss team and is currently a solid 12-seed in bracketology which is the same seed line as the last at-large and Wichita State. They are probably even more intriguing and a borderline bubble team.
-Also in the Midwest, Toledo (75/66) is the strongest MAC team in the computers and the most poised to make a run in March. They’re the other bracketology 12-seed I didn’t mention above.
-Wright State (64/65) is still having a great season in the other midwestern mid-major league, the Horizon, and has great computer numbers. But they shared the league title with the much-less-computer-friendly Cleveland State. For some reason Cleveland State is listed as the Horizon League AQ and a 16-seed. MVFC member Youngstown State is currently in 6th place in that league.
-Colgate (56/13) continues to be thought of as an elite team by NET for no discernable reason and is a 13-seed in bracketology.
-UCSB (57/43) also has impressive computer numbers and is listed as the final bracketology 13-seed out of the Big West.
-Our Lady of the Lake Update: Their last two scheduled games were unsurprisingly cancelled so I guess they have no more games. Their conference did play this year, so I don’t know why they chose to only play DI teams and not play their normal schedule. There is no explanation anywhere so I guess the reason will be lost to history. This has to be a candidate for weirdest COVID season.