Loyola-Chicago at Drake, 8:00 PM Eastern, MC22/espn3
Raise your hand if you thought that first place in the Missouri Valley Conference would be up for grabs in late January in Des Moines, Iowa. Now anyone with your hand up, go head out to confession because you are a liar. The Drake Bulldogs, in a complete shock so far this season, enter tonight’s game at 6-2 in MVC play (12-9 overall) and have to chance to take sole possession of first place with a home win tonight. Head coach Nico Medved’s team has just kept finding ways to win games since conference play began, including a huge win over preseason favorite Missouri State last time out. Reed Timmer scored 24 in that win, and has been putting up some great numbers in recent games. Also keep an eye on Nick McGlynn, who dropped 23 on Evansville ten days ago. It is still hard to believe that this team is a serious contender in the Valley, but a win tonight over the red hot Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago will serve notice to the conference and the entire nation that the Bulldogs are for real this year.
Loyola-Chicago has been red hot, winning five straight games to improve to 16-4 overall and 6-2 in conference play. Having Clayton Custer healthy has been a key to their streak as the Ramblers suffered 3 of their 4 losses during the five game stretch that he missed earlier this season. Custer led his team with 18 points last time out in a win over Valparaiso, though also keep an eye on Donte Ingram who scored 25 last week against Southern Illinois. The Ramblers have the depth and the talent to win this conference, but could be facing a very tough task against Drake in tonight’s key MVC matchup.