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MVC Power Rankings: Drake rises to the top as Loyola, Bradley fall
MVC Power Rankings

MVC Power Rankings: Drake rises to the top as Loyola, Bradley fall

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SIU Drake Basketball

SIU guard Ben Harvey fires against Drake on Jan. 3 at the Knapp Center in Des Moines. 

Two teams are on pause, and two others are off looking for more games.

The fourth weekend of league play in the Missouri Valley Conference got more complicated this week, but not before Bradley (7-4, 1-1 MVC) and Valparaiso (3-7, 0-2) finally jumped into the fray. The Braves made their Valley debuts at Northern Iowa (3-8, 2-4), splitting two games against one of the toughest teams to gauge in the league. The Crusaders lost both games at home against red-hot Missouri State (8-1, 5-1), which now features the top-two scorers in the league in sophomore forward Isiaih Mosley (23.7 points per game) and senior forward Gaige Prim (17.4 ppg.). Prim is also the Valley's top rebounder at 9.1 boards a game.

Undefeated Drake (13-0, 4-0) will have to wait at least another week to put its perfect record on the line, after it paused basketball activities shortly after sweeping SIU (7-3, 1-3) in Des Moines. With less than two months to the MVC Tournament in St. Louis, the league race could get some clarity this weekend with three series. 

Here are this week's power rankings:

No. 1 — Drake Bulldogs (13-0, 4-0 MVC)

Previous rank: 2

Last week: Did not play / This week: No games scheduled

Notes: Drake was 12th in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) Tuesday, the highest in the MVC and one of three teams in the league that were in the top 100. Loyola was 71 and Missouri State was 77. ... Drake is one of four Valley schools allowing fans at its home games, along with Northern Iowa, Missouri State and Evansville.

No. 2 — Loyola Ramblers (7-3, 3-1 MVC)

Previous rank: 1

Last week: Lost 76-71 at Indiana State, beat Indiana State 58-48 / This week: Hosts Northern Iowa (3-8, 2-4) Saturday, 5 p.m. (ESPN2) and Sunday, 4 p.m. (ESPN), in Chicago

Notes: Loyola started 3-1 in the league for the third straight season after earning a split at Indiana State. The Ramblers' 58-48 win at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute, Indiana, was their 16th road win in MVC play since the 2017-18 season, the most of anyone in the league.

No. 3 — Missouri State Bears (8-1, 5-1 MVC)

Previous rank: 5

Last week: Beat Valparaiso 81-68, beat Valparaiso 78-68 / This week: No games scheduled

Notes: Sophomore forward Isiaih Mosley was the MVC player of the week for the second straight week on Monday, after scoring 20 or more points in his seventh straight game at Valparaiso. Mosley (23.7 ppg.) is a 90.2% free-throw shooter (55 of 61), the 10th-leading rebounder in the Valley (5.8 rpg.) and eighth in 3-point shooting (42.4%, 14 of 33).

No. 4 — Bradley Braves (7-4, 1-1 MVC)

Previous rank: 4

Last week: Lost 78-72 at Northern Iowa, beat Northern Iowa 75-73 / This week: Hosts Evansville (6-6, 4-2) Saturday, 3 p.m. (ESPN3) and Sunday, 3 p.m. (ESPN3), in Peoria

Notes: Junior guard/forward Ja'Shon Henry had 16 points in 25 minutes off the bench to help Bradley earn a split at Northern Iowa in its first league series of the season. Forward Elijah Childs, a preseason all-conference pick, had 16 points and eight boards in the win.

No. 5 — Southern Illinois Salukis (7-3, 1-3 MVC)

Previous rank: 4

Last week: Did not play / This week: No games scheduled

Notes: The Valparaiso series was SIU's sixth and seventh lost games of the season due to COVID-19 cases within the Saluki program. SIU lost three games at the Louisville bubble, the weekend at Indiana State and this weekend's series against Valparaiso. The games against the Sycamores and Crusaders are expected to be rescheduled by the league.

No. 6 — Evansville Purple Aces (6-6, 4-2 MVC)

Previous rank: 9

Last week: Beat Illinois State 57-48, lost to Illinois State 73-68 / This week: At Bradley (7-4, 1-1) Saturday, 3 p.m. (ESPN3) and Sunday, 3 p.m. (ESPN3), in Peoria

Notes: ISU's win in the second game of its series snapped a four-game winning streak by the Aces, who went 0-18 in Valley play last season. ... Junior guard Shamar Givance is third in the league in assists per game (4.2) and ninth in scoring (13.5 ppg.).

No. 7 — Northern Iowa Panthers (3-8, 2-4 MVC)

Previous rank: 7

Last week: Beat Bradley 78-72, lost 75-73 to Bradley / This week: At Loyola (8-3, 3-1) Saturday, 5 p.m. (ESPN2) and Sunday, 4 p.m. (ESPN), in Chicago

Notes: Forward Austin Phyfe flirted with a triple-double in Game 2 against Bradley, scoring nine points, grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out six assists. ... Freshman guard Bowen Born led the Panthers with 17 points in that 75-73 loss, which featured a last-second, tying jumper at the horn. Officials reviewed the play, and it was determined the clock operator did not start the clock on time after a player touched the ball off a missed free-throw attempt. 

No. 8 — Indiana State Sycamores (3-6, 0-4 MVC)

Previous rank: 6

Last week: Beat Loyola 76-71, lost to Loyola 58-48 / This week: At Illinois State (4-6, 1-3) Saturday, 3 p.m. (MVC-TV) and Sunday, 3 p.m. (Marquee Sports Network/ESPN3), in Normal

Notes: Forwards Jake LaRavia and Tre Williams are eighth and ninth in the Valley in rebounding, respectively, at 5.9 and 5.8 rebounds per game. The Sycamores are 2-2 this season when outrebounding opponents, but 0-2 in MVC games when winning the glass. 

No. 9 — Valparaiso Crusaders (3-7, 0-2 MVC)

Previous rank: 8

Last week: Lost 81-68 to Missouri State, lost 78-68 to Missouri State / This week: No games scheduled

Notes: Valparaiso is looking for a game, or games, after its series at Southern Illinois was postponed because of COVID-19 protocols. ... The Crusaders have committed nine turnovers or less in its last three games, after giving away 10 or more in its first seven.

No. 10 — Illinois State Redbirds (4-6, 1-3 MVC)

Previous rank: 10

Last week: Lost 57-48 at Evansville, beat Evansville 73-68 / This week: Hosts Indiana State (4-7, 1-5) Saturday, 3 p.m. (MVC-TV) and Sunday, 3 p.m. (Marquee Sports Network/ESPN3), in Normal

Notes: Sy Chatman, a 6-8 transfer from UMass who ISU filed a waiver to get eligible this season, has decided to opt out of the remainder of the season for what the team called "personal reasons." Chatman played in five games this season, making 10 of 22 from the field and 4 of 7 at the free-throw line. He scored 24 points and grabbed five boards. ... Guard Antonio Reeves had 32 points and seven rebounds in the Redbirds' split at Evansville, scoring 21 points in the Game 2 victory.

todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com

618-351-5087

On Twitter: @THefferman

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