Alize Johnson Missouri State

Alize Johnson of Missouri State was the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference newcomer of the year, and is expected to be the preseason player of the year in league this season. Johnson averaged 14.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game last season.

For the first time since 2014, all 10 men's basketball teams in the Missouri Valley Conference are about to reach 10 wins.

Northern Iowa, ranked ninth in last week's power rankings because they were headed to Indiana State and an 0-5 league start, joined the 10-win club with Tuesday night's 68-54 win over Drake. Illinois State (9-9, 3-3 MVC) could get there with a win over Bradley Wednesday night, and Indiana State starts this week 8-10 overall and 3-3 in the league.

Only 13 times in the league's previous 110 seasons has all of its members reach 10 wins or more. Only one other time have all of them reached the 10-win plateau before Feb. 11.

Look for a close race this season. Only two losses separate first-place Drake (11-9, 5-2) and eighth place Evansville (12-7, 2-4) and Valparaiso (11-8, 2-4).

Here are this week's power rankings:

No. 1 — Missouri State Bears (13-5, 3-2 MVC)

Previous rank: 1. Last week: Lost at Evansville 64-55, beat Indiana State 76-73. This week: Hosts Valparaiso Wednesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Springfield, Mo., at Drake Saturday, 3 p.m. (MVC-TV), Des Moines.

Notes: Missouri State is 3-0 at home in conference play partly because of forward Alize Johnson, the league's preseason player of the year. Johnson averages 14.6 points and 12 rebounds a game in 25 home games entering this week, more than anyone else in Bears history with that many appearances. ... Junior guard Jarred Dixon averaged 10.5 points and three assists per game last week. He scored 15 points to help the Bears beat Indiana State 76-73.

No. 2 — Loyola Ramblers (14-4, 4-2 MVC)

Previous rank: 6. Last week: Won at Illinois State 68-61, beat Bradley 81-65. This week: Hosts Southern Illinois Wednesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3, NBC Sports Chicago), Chicago, at Valparaiso Sunday, 3 p.m. (ESPNU), Valparaiso, Ind.

Notes: Guard/forward Donte Ingram, a preseason all-conference first team pick, scored his 1,000th career point in Loyola's first win at Redbird Arena in Normal since 1991. He is one of only 19 players in Ramblers history with over 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. ... Cameron Krutwig, a 6-foot-9, 260-pound freshman forward from Algonquin (Jacobs High School), scored a career-high 21 points and had a career-high 13 rebounds in Loyola's win over Bradley. He became the first freshman to record a double-double since Milton Doyle in 2014 at Drake (16 points, 10 rebounds).

No. 3 — Southern Illinois Salukis (11-8, 3-3 MVC)

Previous rank: 5. Last week: Lost at Bradley 68-62, beat Illinois State 74-70. This week: At Loyola Wednesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3, NBC Sports Chicago), Chicago, hosts Northern Iowa Sunday, 3 p.m. (ESPN3), Carbondale.

Notes: Tyler Smithpeters, a fifth-year senior guard who was shooting just over 25 percent from the 3-point line the first third of the season, has converted 10 of his last 20 behind the arc. He is 12 of 30 behind the arc in Valley play (40 percent). ... In a year almost everyone in the Valley has struggled to piece wins together, SIU goes for its first back-to-back victories in conference play Wednesday night at Loyola. Chicago has the highest amount of Saluki alums of any city in America.

No. 4 — Drake Bulldogs (11-9, 5-2 MVC)

Previous rank: 3. Last week: Lost at Valparaiso 77-60, beat Evansville 81-65. This week: Lost at Northern Iowa Tuesday night, 68-54, hosts Missouri State Saturday, 3 p.m. (MVC-TV), Des Moines.

Notes: Drake has two road wins in Valley play so far, equaling its combined total the last three seasons. ... Entering the week, the Bulldogs' 16.6 assists per game were 41st in the nation, and their 1.33 assist-to-turnover ratio was 42nd. Drake has had 20 or more assists in three of its seven Valley games. ... Junior forward Nick McGlynn narrowly missed his fifth double-double of the season with 23 points and nine boards in the win over Evansville.

No. 5 — Illinois State Redbirds (9-9, 3-3 MVC)

Previous rank: 2. Last week: Lost 68-61 at Loyola, lost 74-70 at Southern Illinois. This week: Hosts Bradley Wednesday, 6 p.m. (MVC-TV), Normal, at Indiana State Saturday, 1 p.m. (ESPN3), Terre Haute, Ind.

Notes: Junior forward Milik Yarbrough is one of five players in Division I to average 16.5 points, five rebounds and 4.5 assists per game or more. Yarbrough has had a tough stretch with turnovers his last two games, with nine in the loss at Loyola and seven in the loss at SIU. Yarbrough had eight assists against the Ramblers and five against the Salukis. ... Guard Keyshawn Evans is 17th in the country in 3-point field goal percentage, 19th in 3s per game and 25th in total 3s this season.

No. 6 — Bradley Braves (13-6, 3-3 MVC)

Previous rank: 4. Last week: Beat Southern Illinois 68-62, lost at Loyola 81-65. This week: At Illinois State Wednesday, 6 p.m. (MVC-TV), Normal, hosts Evansville Saturday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Peoria.

Notes: Bradley is in the middle of an eight-game stretch when it will only leave Illinois once, to play at Indiana State Jan. 28. After playing SIU and Loyola last week, the Braves play in Normal Wednesday night and host four of their next five games. Bradley is the only team in the Valley that is undefeated at home (9-0). The Braves outscore teams in Peoria an average of 71.4-55.3, but fall on the road 71-63.3. ... Senior forward Donte Thomas is averaging 13.3 points per game in Valley play, up nearly five points from the regular season (8.5). His rebounds are up 1.9 per game, from 5.8 during the regular season to 7.7 in league play.

No. 7 — Northern Iowa Panthers (11-8, 2-4 MVC)

Previous rank: 9. Last week: Lost at Indiana State 69-67, beat Valparaiso 81-76. This week: Beat Drake 68-54 Tuesday night, at Southern Illinois Sunday, 3 p.m. (ESPN3), Carbondale.

Notes: Freshman forward Austin Phyfe scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds in his first career start against Valparaiso last week. Phyfe made 6 of 7 from the field and was a perfect 8 of 8 at the free-throw line. Phyfe entered the game with 27 points on the season. ... Northern Iowa earned back-to-back wins Tuesday night for the first time since beating UNLV, UT-Arlington and Dubuque in late November/early December.

No. 8 — Valparaiso Crusaders (11-8, 2-4 MVC)

Previous rank: 7. Last week: Beat Drake 77-60, lost at Northern Iowa 81-76. This week: At Missouri State Wednesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Springfield, Mo., hosts Loyola Sunday, 3 p.m. (ESPNU), Valparaiso, Ind.

Notes: After its road trip to Missouri State Wednesday night, the Crusaders will host three of their next four games. Valparaiso will welcome Loyola and Evansville before going to Illinois State Jan. 27 and returning home to face Indiana State Jan. 31.

Notes: Valparaiso is shooting 38.8 percent from the 3-point line in its 11 victories and 29 percent in its eight losses. The Crusaders made 12 of 24 behind the arc in their win over Drake. ... Senior guard Max Joseph has scored 10 or more points in five of six Valley games, including 16 against Drake and 10 against the Panthers. His 16 points and eight assists against the Bulldogs were the first time a Valparaiso player had at least 16 and eight in a game since Urule Igbavboa had a triple-double against Chicago State on Feb. 5, 2007.

No. 9 — Indiana State Sycamores (8-10, 3-3 MVC)

Previous rank: 10. Last week: Beat Northern Iowa 69-67, lost 76-73 at Missouri State. This week: At Evansville Wednesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Evansville, Ind., hosts Illinois State Saturday, 1 p.m. (ESPN3), Terre Haute, Ind.

Notes: Evansville and Indiana State meet for the 170th time Wednesday. The Purple Aces are the Sycamores' most frequent opponent, by 38 games, in their history. Ball State is second. ... Senior guard Brenton Scott, a preseason all-conference first team pick, moved up to fifth in school history in scoring with 1,574 points. He is one of three Sycamores with 200 or more career 3s, with 245. Michael Menser (1997-2001) has 283 3s, and Jordan Printy (2008-12) has 215.

No. 10 — Evansville Purple Aces (12-7, 2-4 MVC)

Previous rank: 8. Last week: Beat Missouri State 64-55, lost 81-65 at Drake. This week: Hosts Indiana State Wednesday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Evansville, Ind., at Bradley Saturday, 7 p.m. (ESPN3), Peoria.

Notes: Evansville is 10-1 at home this season, with its only loss to Illinois State. The Aces never trailed in home wins over Bradley and Missouri State. ... Evansville is one of three teams in the Valley that are 5-5 in their last 10 games, along with Illinois State and Indiana State. Drake, Bradley and Southern Illinois are 6-4 in their last 10 games.


On Twitter: @THefferman


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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