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UT Martin Northern Iowa Basketball

Northern Iowa celebrates a big play against UT Martin Nov. 19. The Panthers (6-0) put their perfect record on the line Tuesday night against West Virginia. 

Northern Iowa is off to its first 6-0 start in five years. Drake got one of its best players back from suspension. The Salukis are back at home.

The Missouri Valley Conference whiffed in a lot of big games since Evansville took down then-No. 1 Kentucky earlier this month, but there are big games ahead. The Panthers put their perfect record on the line against West Virginia in the Cancun Challenge Tuesday night, and Bradley played Northwestern late Monday night as part of the Fort Myers (Florida) Tip-Off. League teams are a combined 25-5 after Sunday's action, and SIU (2-4) is back home Tuesday night to face North Carolina Central (2-4).

Here are this week's power rankings, with records as of Monday morning:

1. Northern Iowa Panthers (6-0)

Previous rank: 3

Last week: Beat Cornell College 88-66, beat UT Martin 87-67 / This week: Vs. West Virginia Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., Cancun, Mexico (CBS Sports Network); vs. Wichita State/South Carolina Wednesday, 5 or 7:30 p.m., Cancun, Mexico (CBS Sports Network)

Note: Guard Trae Berhow was named the MVC player of the week after scoring 56 points in two games and dropping 21 of 26 from the field in two wins. Berhow scored a career-high 36 points against UT Martin, hitting 13 of 17 from the field and tying the school record with eight 3-pointers.

2. Bradley Braves (4-1)

Previous rank: 4

Last week: Beat Radford 70-61, beat Norfolk State 69-57 / This week: Vs. Northwestern Monday night in Fort Myers, Fla. (FS1); vs. Pittsburgh or Kansas State Wednesday, TBA, Fort Myers, Fla. (FS1)

Note: Bradley ranks eighth in the country in offensive rebounding after five games (15.8 per game). Center Koch Bar is fourth in the country at 4.6 offensive boards a game and 31st in total rebounding, averaging 10 boards a game. Forward Elijah Childs is 19th in the country in offensive rebounding (4.2 per game).

3. Missouri State Bears (3-4)

Previous rank: 2

Last week: Lost 75-74 to Buffalo, beat St. Joseph's 71-69, lost 74-70 to Miami (Fla.) / This week: At LSU Friday, 7 p.m., Baton Rouge, La. (SEC Network Plus)

Note: Five of MSU's first seven games have been decided by four points or less. The Bears are 1-4 in those games. ... After playing at LSU, MSU has three straight home games and four of its next six games at home.

4. Drake Bulldogs (4-1)

Previous rank: 5

Last week: Beat Lehigh 74-58 / This week: Vs. Miami (Ohio) Monday night in Estero, Fla. (FloHoops.com); vs. TBA Wednesday, TBA, Estero, Fla. (FloHoops.com); vs. TBA Wednesday, TBA, Estero, Fla. (FloHoops.com)

Note: Drake's magic number this season has been 60. The Bulldogs are 4-0 when allowing opponents to score less than 59 points (Cincinnati beat Drake 61-59). 

5. Evansville Purple Aces (4-3)

Previous rank: 1

Last week: Beat Morgan State 115-112 in 3OT, lost 78-70 to George Washington, lost 59-57 to SMU / This week: At IUPUI Saturday, 6 p.m., Indianapolis (TV TBA)

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Note: Senior guard K.J. Riley had two career days last week, scoring 28 points against George Washington and 36 against Morgan State.

6. Loyola Ramblers (3-2)

Previous rank: 7

Last week: Beat IUPUI 85-62 / This week: Vs. South Florida Monday in the Cayman Islands; vs. Colorado State or New Mexico State Tuesday, TBA, Cayman Islands (FloHoops.com); vs. TBA Wednesday, TBA, Cayman Islands (FloHoops.com)

Note: Loyola averaged 85 points per game and shot 58.5% from the field during its two-game winning streak going into this week. The Ramblers sank 13 of 30 from the 3-point line in wins over IUPUI and St. Joseph's.

7. Valparaiso Crusaders (4-2)

Previous rank: 6

Last week: Lost 84-59 to Nevada, beat Grand Canyon 78-74 / This week: Vs. Cincinnati Monday in U.S. Virgin Islands; host Trinity Christian Wednesday, 7 p.m., Valparaiso, Ind. (ESPN3)

Note: Sophomore guard Javon Freeman-Liberty (22 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game) was just the third player in the last 30 years to average over 20 points a game through his first six games. Entering Monday's game against Cincinnati, Freeman-Liberty had put up 19 points in all six of the Crusaders' games.

8. Illinois State Redbirds (2-3)

Previous rank: 8

Last week: Lost 83-69 to Western Kentucky / This week: Vs. Grand Canyon Monday in U.S. Virgin Islands; host Illinois-Springfield Friday, 2 p.m., Normal (ESPN3)

Note: Illinois State's reserves have outscored their opponents in all five games heading into Monday's game against Grand Canyon. The Redbirds' bench outscored Cincinnati's 32-2. 

9. Southern Illinois Salukis (2-4)

Previous rank: 9

Last week: Lost 79-66 at Murray State / This week: Host North Carolina Central Tuesday, 7 p.m., Carbondale (ESPN+); at Saint Louis Wednesday, 3 p.m., St. Louis (Fox Sports Midwest)

Note: SIU guard Aaron Cook will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his right hand, suffered at Murray State. Cook has scored in double figures in all six of the Salukis' games before the injury.

10. Indiana State Sycamores (2-4)

Previous rank: 10

Last week: Beat Air Force 84-74, beat Loyola Marymount 72-60, lost 74-71 to Duquesne / This week: Host Missouri-St. Louis Saturday, 1 p.m., Terre Haute, Ind. (ESPN3)

Note: Sunday's win over Air Force gave coach Greg Lansing career win No. 150 at Indiana State, second-most in school history. Lansing is now 32 wins from tying Duane Klueh for the school record. It also pulled ISU to win No. 1,498 as a program, two short of 1,500.

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todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com

618-351-5087

On Twitter: @THefferman

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