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SIU's Tyler Smithpeters drives during the Salukis loss at Loyola on Wednesday.

Saluki Media Services

No. 1 — Loyola Ramblers (18-4, 8-2 MVC)

Previous rank: 2. This week: At Bradley Wednesday, 7 p.m. (MVC-TV), Peoria, hosts Missouri State Saturday 1 p.m. (CBS Sports Network), Chicago. Notes: Loyola takes a seven-game winning streak into the week after becoming the first team this season to beat Drake in Des Moines and toppling Northern Iowa 70-47. ... Guard Clayton Custer (17.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, five assists per game last week) was the MVC player of the week. Loyola is 16-1 with him in the lineup. 

No. 2 — Bradley Braves (16-7, 6-4 MVC)

Previous rank: 6. This week: Hosts Loyola Wednesday, 7 p.m. (MVC-TV), Peoria, hosts Drake Saturday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Peoria. Notes: Braves put their 11-0 home record up against the hottest team in the league, Loyola, which has won seven straight. ... Bradley got a season-high 42 points from its bench in its road win at Indiana State Sunday. The Braves' reserves had 31 points, total, in their previous three games. 

No. 3 — Southern Illinois Salukis (14-9, 6-4 MVC)

Previous rank: 3. This week: At Drake Tuesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Des Moines, hosts Valparaiso Saturday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Carbondale. Notes: Playing six guys nearly 30 minutes a game, the Salukis have won three straight and are going for their first four-game winning streak in two years. ... Junior guard Armon Fletcher scored the game-winning basket in wins over Indiana State and Missouri State. 

No. 4 — Drake Bulldogs (12-11, 6-4 MVC)

Previous rank: 4. This week: Hosts Southern Illinois Tuesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Des Moines, at Bradley Saturday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Peoria. Notes: The Bulldogs are 8-1 at home but have dropped three of their last four games. ... Drake is yet to rally from a 10-point deficit to win in league play. The Bulldogs have not faced a 10-point deficit or more in their six Valley wins. 

No. 5 — Illinois State Redbirds (11-11, 5-5 MVC)

Previous rank: 5. This week: At Missouri State Tuesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Springfield, Mo., at Loyola Saturday, 1 p.m. (CBS Sports Network), Chicago. Notes: Forward Phil Fayne averaged 17 points and nine rebounds in the Redbirds' split against Northern Iowa and Valparaiso. ... Forward Milik Yarbrough is the only current Division I men's player to average at least 16.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. Yarbrough also has a team-high 78 turnovers, 30 more than any other Redbird. 

No. 6 — Missouri State Bears (15-8, 5-5 MVC)

Previous rank: 1. This week: Hosts Illinois State Tuesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Springfield, Mo., at Loyola Saturday, 1 p.m. (CBS Sports Network), Chicago. Notes: Missouri State will be without forwards Reggie Scurry and Abdul Fofana for "weeks" rather than days, according to coach Paul Lusk, after the two were injured during a cryotherapy session last Monday. The entire Bears team, and some women's basketball players, went through the therapy. Scurry and Fofana, who developed blisters on their feet, were the only ones injured. ... Forward Obediah Church became the Bears' all-time leading shotblocker with his two rejections against SIU. He now has 166 career blocks.

No. 7 — Indiana State Sycamores (10-12, 5-5 MVC)

Previous rank: 9. This week: At Valparaiso Wednesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Valparaiso, Ind., at Northern Iowa Saturday, 3 p.m. (MVC-TV), Cedar Falls, Iowa. Notes: The Sycamores are tied for the national lead with the most losses of five or less points this season (five). Indiana State also has three overtime losses this season. ... Sophomore guard Jordan Barnes is seven 3-pointers away from tying Michael Menser's single-season record (92, 2000-01). 

No. 8 — Evansville Purple Aces (14-9, 4-6 MVC)

Previous rank: 10. This week: Hosts Northern Iowa Wednesday 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Evansville, Ind., at Illinois State Saturday, 3 p.m. (ESPN3), Normal. Notes: Guard Ryan Taylor scored a game-high 25 points to help the Aces hold off Drake, 77-73. He had 22 points earlier in the week against Valparaiso. ... Evansville is 11-1 when shooting 40 percent or better from the 3-point line and just 3-8 when it goes under. 

No. 9 — Northern Iowa Panthers (11-11, 3-7 MVC)

Previous rank: 7. This week: At Evansville Wednesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Evansville, Ind., hosts Indiana State Saturday, 3 p.m. (MVC-TV), Cedar Falls, Iowa. Notes: Sophomore guard Isaiah Brown scored a career-high 20 points in the Panthers' 83-72 win over Illinois State on Wednesday. Sophomore guard Juwan McCloud became one of 11 players in the NCAA Division I to have at least nine assists when he handed out that many against the Redbirds. His six steals were also a career-high.

No. 10 — Valparaiso Crusaders (11-12, 2-8 MVC)

Previous rank: 8. This week: Hosts Indiana State Wednesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Valparaiso, Ind., at Southern Illinois Saturday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Carbondale. Notes: Valparaiso leads the MVC at 7.8 steals a game, which ranks 38th nationally. Guards Tevonn Walker (1.9 steals a game), Bakari Evelyn (1.5) and Max Joseph (1.4) all rank in the top 10 in steals per game in the Valley.

todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com

618-351-5087

On Twitter: @THefferman

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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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