SIU moves back into the mid-major top 25, Evansville snaps the skid, and Anthony Beane moves around in Italy, all in today's Saluki Basketball 5@5.
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No. 1 — Salukis come in 17th: SIU (3-0) came in 17th in Monday's Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major top-25 poll, its first appearance of the season.
The Salukis broke in after knocking off Murray State (3-2) Friday night, 70-66, at the Banterra Center. The Racers were 16th in the mid-major poll and fell to 19th. SIU was one of three teams from the MVC in the poll, with Loyola (3-0) second behind Gonzaga and Drake (6-0) ninth. Bradley (4-2) was 26th in the poll, about 20 votes behind No. 25 Chattanooga (6-0).
Northern Iowa (1-4), the preseason favorite in the MVC, fell out of the top 25 after losing at No. 19 Richmond, 78-68. The Panthers lost backup guard Antwan Kimmons to indefinite leave, as he left the team to attend to his family in Minnesota, and preseason player of the year A.J. Green to a season-ending hip injury. UNI received votes in the poll.
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No. 2 — Twenty-two and not counting any more: Evansville (1-3) snapped its 22-game losing streak Wednesday night with a 68-65 win over Eastern Illinois. The Purple Aces got five players into double figures and survived a potentially-tying 3 from the Panthers right before the horn to win at the Ford Center.
Evansville's 22-game skid, which included an 0-18 run in Valley play last season, was the longest in the program's history.
No. 3 — Beane switches teams in Italy: Former Saluki guard Anthony Beane, the third-highest-scoring player in school history, is switching teams in Italy. Beane, who scored 1,917 points between 2012-16, started this season with Virtus Roma in Italy's Serie A League but agreed to terms with Openjobmetis Varese on Monday. Beane averaged 17.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game in 15 games for Spirou Charleroi in Belgium last season, helping them reach the cup finals. He was selected to the All-Belgian League second team and the all-star game.
Eric McGill, who finished his Saluki career in March, is off to a hot start in his first professional season in Bulgaria. McGill is Tundja Yambol's leading scorer at 14.8 points per game, and is also averaging 2.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He is shooting 65.4% from the field, and is 5 of 9 from the 3-point line.
No. 4 — Where we playing?: In these uncertain times, even without fans, Valley teams have been incredibly hard to beat at home so far. In 17 home games, MVC teams are a combined 16-1 entering Tuesday night's action (Bradley lost to South Dakota State in Peoria). Last season they won 90.2% of their home games against non-conference opponents.
Drake, Loyola and SIU have the only road wins in the league this season so far. Drake won at Kansas State, Loyola won at Illinois-Chicago (does that really count?), and the Salukis won at Southeast Missouri State.
No. 5 — Busy week: Four Valley teams are in action Tuesday night, beginning in Normal at 2 p.m.
Chicago State takes on Illinois State at Redbird Arena at 2 p.m. Southeast Missouri State is at Evansville at 6, Indiana State is at Saint Louis at 7, and Loyola takes on 12th-ranked Wisconsin at 7.
Loyola is scheduled to play at No. 19 Richmond Friday night, giving the Ramblers back-to-back games against nationally-ranked teams for the first time since the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
On Twitter: @THefferman