Raise your hand if you had Drake's men's basketball team hosting Loyola in a battle of first-place teams on Jan. 24th.
The Bulldogs (12-9, 6-2 Missouri Valley Conference), picked last in the preseason poll, have won eight straight games at the Knapp Center in Des Moines. Senior guard Reed Timmer, the league's leading active scorer with 1,735 points, leads the Valley's top-scoring offense (75.6 points per game) against the hottest team in the league.
Loyola (16-4, 6-2), winners of five straight, has won three straight road games in league play entering tonight's 7 p.m. tipoff. League teams were a combined 30-10 at home heading into Tuesday night, when Bradley put its perfect home record (9-0) on the line against preseason Valley favorite Missouri State in Peoria.
"I do think you get these atmospheres," Loyola coach Porter Moser said. "Kids are comfortable at home, but, my own team, we never really talk about it. We talk about having a blinder focus whether you're at home or on the road."
Tonight's game can be seen on ESPN3. Missouri State (15-6, 5-3 heading into Tuesday's game) and Indiana State (10-10 5-3) began the week a game back of the co-leaders.
Valley ranked eighth: The MVC came in eighth in the latest conference RPI.
The Valley hasn't finished that high since the season-ending RPI of the 2012-13 season. After Indiana State beat Illinois State last week, every league team achieved at least 10 wins for the first time since that season. In 110 previous seasons, the league has had all 10 teams reach 11 wins or more only once before Valentine's Day (2007).
SIU Hall of Fame induction moving to the fall: SIU athletic director announced in December the department is moving its Hall of Fame induction ceremony to Homecoming weekend. The event was in the fall from 1978-2000 before former Saluki athletic director Paul Kowalczyk moved it to February/basketball season.
"Having the opportunity to celebrate a Hall of Fame induction with a former teammate makes the event even more special," Bell said. "Inductees will get a chance to ride in the Homecoming parade, be introduced during the game and enjoy a festive weekend with their families."