Arch Madness 2018

This post will be updated with current information on Arch Madness 2018 as it becomes available.

The Basics

  • 2018 MVC Men’s Basketball Conference Tournament, a.k.a. Arch Madness
  • Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri
  • March 1-4, 2018

Ticket Info

All-session ticket packages in the Loyola block are available through the Loyola box office.

The Loyola sections are 104 and 105.

Hotel Info

Group rate hotel reservations for Loyola fans may be made at the team hotel, The Westin St. Louis (a 10 minute walk to Scottrade Center).

Game Schedule

Quarterfinals: Friday, 12:00 p.m.
Semifinals: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Championship: Sunday, 1:00 p.m.

Other Events

Alumni Relations Arch Madness Kickoff Event

Illinois State Preview — 2-24-2018

Saturday, February 24, 2018 1:00 p.m.
Gentile Arena, Chicago, Ill.

Was there a five-year plan? Because if there was a plan for what Rambler fans will experience at Gentile Arena on Saturday, that was one helluva plan– a plan that came off better than almost anyone imagined.

Five years ago today, Loyola was winding up another sub-par season in the Horizon League, a conference that had recently lost its best program. Amid the chaos of conference re-organization, Loyola jumped at the chance to say goodbye to the Horizon, a league Loyola co-founded but had changed drastically and sometimes with hostility, around them. The MVC was a great match for a Loyola program committed at the highest level to applying the resources and effort to improvement to its athletic program. There was fierce skepticism from a lot of quarters in the MVC. But five years later, the Ramblers have achieved benchmarks of success in college basketball that they haven’t seen since the mid-1980s.

The culmination of Loyola’s rise from the lower quadrant of the Horizon to the top of America’s best mid-major conference happens Saturday afternoon. It will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2, showing a championship team playing in front of a sold-out crowd, against an in-state rival, led by a player of the year candidate, and Loyola looking for their 25th regular season win.

It’s also Senior Day at Loyola, with Ben Richardson, Donte Ingram, Aundre Jackson, Nick DiNardi and Carson Shanks being recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to men’s basketball at Loyola. In the case of Richardson and Ingram, the two four-year players have seen a CBI Championship in their freshman year, 81 wins against 49 losses thus far, two MTE titles, an MVC Regular Season Conference Championship, and whatever comes as a result of a 2017-18 postseason that is now guaranteed. The 81 wins are the highest number of wins for four-year players at Loyola since Alfredrick Hughes, Andre Battle and Greg Williams racked up 83 wins from 1981-1985.

Loyola faces off against last season’s #1 seed from Arch Madness, the Illinois State Redbirds. After losing prodigious talents from their 2016-17 squad, the Redbirds have been very competitive with four new starters and not a single senior on the team—something that’s not very easy to do. Injuries have taken a toll on the ‘birds, with only one player playing in every one of their games.

Coach Dan Mueller will likely start guards 6’ junior Keyshawn Evans, 6’6” junior William Tinsley, and 6’3” sophomore Matt Hein, along with 6’6” forward Malik Yarbrough and 7’ center Daouda Ndiaye. Forwards Phil Fayne (ankle sprain) and Tyler Bruninga (concussion) have been coming off the bench to start games since their recovery, and defensive ace Madison Williams, a 6’3” sophomore guard, was recently replaced as a starter by the more offense-minded Hein. Six-four freshman guard Elijah Clarance and 6’5” guard Issac Gassman also see considerable time off the bench.

Malik Yarbrough is a point forward who causes matchup problems for teams that aren’t prepared or athletic enough to limit his wide array of abilities. Yarbrough, who transferred to his father’s alma mater from St. Louis University, shows up near the top of the league’s points, rebounds, assists, and free throw leaders. He’s a great player, and worthy of POTY consideration, but he has weaknesses—a propensity to take unwise threes (he shoots only 29% behind the arc), getting into foul trouble (9 games with 4 or more fouls), and making a lot of turnovers (His 107 turnovers leads the league by 19 over next highest). When he’s taken out of the scoring mix, the Redbirds struggle—ISU is 13-3 when Yarbrough scores 15 points or more, and they’re 2-10 when he scores 14 or less.

One other factor that Illinois State really relies upon to win is defending against the three. In games where the opposition shoots 30% or better on three pointers, the Redbirds are 3-11. In games where opponents shoot threes at less than 30%, they’re 13-2.

In their last matchup on Jan. 10 at Redbird Arena, Loyola got their first win in Normal since joining the MVC, 68-61. Loyola’s bench was the star of the game, with Aundre Jackson leading all scorers with 15 off the bench, Bruno Skokna adding 11, and Lucas Williamson scoring six. The Ramblers forced 18 turnovers, including 9 from Yarbrough, who was limited to just 13 points by a stifling defense. Loyola had some problems with ISU’s zone defense, which helped ISU climb back to take a 1-point lead with less than eight minutes to play, but the Ramblers responded with a 12-2 run and built their lead to 11 while coasting to the buzzer.

As this year’s #1 conference tournament seed meets last year’s #1 on national television, it’s important to note what happened to Illinois State last year. Undoubtedly, there will likely be a lot of talk on the broadcast about the fate of the 2016-17 Redbirds, and what Loyola (or maybe the NCAA Tournament Committee) can do to keep Loyola from experiencing the same fate as the Redbirds if they have an off day in St. Louis.

Hopefully the tournament committee members watching will take notice when ESPN 2 shows the graphic that Loyola was 2-3 in games played without the likely MVC Player of the Year, and 22-2 when Custer played. Maybe there will also be graphics that show the Ramblers have the 2nd highest team field goal percentage in college basketball; that NC State bowed out from playing the Ramblers in Chicago, in what would have been a boost to schedule strength and a chance at another Tier 1 win; that Loyola still has an RPI at 32 despite their two worst losses coming during Clayton Custer’s injury; and that the Ramblers currently have a .500 record against both Tier 1 and Tier 2 opponents.

Loyola game notes: Pending

Illinois State game notes: Pending

TV/Streaming video: ESPN2 / … basketball

Live stats:

Vegas odds: Pending

SIU Preview — 2-21-2018

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 7:00 p.m.
SIU Arena, Carbondale, Ill.

Having clinched at least a tie for the MVC regular season crown with their 76-66 win at Evansville on Sunday, the Ramblers head back south on Saturday for a chance to win the crown outright against the Salukis in Carbondale. SIU has had an improbable season, overcoming several injuries and still challenging for a share of the conference title with two games to go. Only four Salukis have appeared in every game this year, and only six have appeared in as many as 23 of SIU’s 29 games. As if the heavy minutes by seven core players wasn’t tiring enough, SIU has gone to overtime in three of their last four games.

Coach Hinson has kept SIU winning with smoke, mirrors, baling wire, and electrical tape. The Salukis enjoy a nice home court advantage at SIU Arena, where they’re 13-2 on the season, 7-1 in home conference games, and winners of seven in a row. Somehow, Hinson has managed the team’s minutes like a wizard, even despite it being necessary for players to endure 43-minute games due to overtime periods. Sean Lloyd leads the league in total minutes played (1004) and ranks third in minutes per game (34.6). Armon Fletcher ranks 9th in the league in mpg. Wednesday night will be senior night, as the Salukis will honor Tyler Smithpeters and others.

SIU starts Armon Fletcher, Sean Lloyd, Aaron Cook, and Marcus Bartley as guards, and Kavion Pippen, a 6’10” center. Fletcher and Lloyd are two tough and experienced 6’5” junior guards who average 14.4 and 12.4 points per game respectively. Cook is a 6’2” sophomore guard who averages 10.3 points and passes well; he’s second on the team in assists and steals. Marcus Bartley, a 6’5” junior point guard, averages only 6.5 points per game, but leads the team in assists and shoots reasonably well from three-point land. Pippen is a good rim protector (38 blocks) who can score (12.5 points per game) and rebound (5.9 per game).

Six-four senior guard Tyler Smithpeters plays starters’ minutes off the bench, and averages 7.7 points per game—primarily from outside the arc, but he also snags 4.2 rebounds per game. Jonathan Wiley, a 6’7” forward, has recently returned from injury to add depth to the bench. Rudy Stradnieks (a 6’9” senior forward), and 6’5” freshman forward Brendon Gooch get 5 or 10 minutes off the bench.

In their Jan. 17 matchup in Chicago, Loyola beat the Salukis 79-65 behind 25 points from Donte Ingram and 18 from Cam Krutwig. Sean Lloyd had 21 points to lead the Salukis. Loyola had a 16-5 run to end the first half with a 12-point lead, and then shot 61% in the second half to earn the win. It was not the prettiest game, as both teams had 20 turnovers, and the two teams combined for 47 shots from the free throw line. That win by Loyola broke a 3-game losing streak against the Salukis; SIU leads the all-time series against the Ramblers 7-5.

Loyola is 6-2 in road conference games for the year, and like with most things this year, it’s the best road performance in decades. In 2006-07, Loyola lost its first three conference road games before winning five in a row on the road, capped by a win at #15 Butler. To match this year’s conference road win total, you have to go back to 1984-85, when the Ramblers were 6-1 (losing only at Xavier).

Loyola game notes: … df?id=5871

SIU game notes: Pending

TV/Streaming video: ESPN3 / … basketball


Vegas odds: Pending

Evansville Preview — 2-18-2018

Sunday, February 18, 2018 3:00 p.m.
Ford Center, Evansville, Ind.

Loyola and Evansville have comparable records since the Ramblers joined the MVC. Overall, Loyola is 89-71, and 39-48 in conference games. The Purple Aces are 95-69 overall and have the exact same 39-48 record in conference. Both the Aces and the Ramblers won C-tournaments in 2014-15, the Ramblers winning the CBI and the Aces the CIT. Sunday’s game at the Ford Center may help determine if Loyola’s excellent 2017-18 season thus far is just a fortunate blip, or possibly a harbinger of big future success.

The Ramblers are looking to clinch at least a tie for the MVC regular season crown with a win Sunday afternoon, and perhaps an outright title pending the result of the SIU vs. Indiana State game. Evansville is a much better team at home, where they’re 13-2 on the year, with their only losses coming from Illinois State and Indiana State. The Aces average 70.5 points per game on average at home, and only 61.1 on the road.

Evansville has won only one of their last four games. Key injuries and heavy minutes may have taken too much of a toll on the plucky Aces. Super-talented sophomore guard Dru Smith has missed eight games due to injury, and his attempt to come back early last weekend against Missouri State resulted in aggravation of his initial injury; he may not likely play again this season. Fifth-year senior Duane Gibson has only played 25 minutes in two games out of the last eight. Leading scorer Ryan Taylor (21.4 ppg) missed seven games in November and December. Senior guard Blake Simmons and Taylor are first and third in average minutes per game.

Evansville is currently starting 6’5” senior Blake Simmons, 6’6” junior guard Ryan Taylor, 6’9” junior Dainius Chatkevicius at forward/center, 6’5” sophomore guard K.J. Riley, and 6’7” redshirt freshman forward John Hall. Six-four freshman guard Noah Frederking, 6’9” center Dalen Traore, and 6’8” freshman Evan Kuhlman get the most time off the bench.

In their last game, a 47-41 loss at UNI on Tuesday night, the Aces really struggled to score. It was their first game since Dru Taylor re-injured his foot. Ryan Taylor scored 26 points, but none of the other UE starters scored more than 2 points. The Aces didn’t shoot a single free throw, but put UNI on the line 19 times. Perhaps after one of the longest gaps between games during the conference season, they’ll be regrouped, fresh and re-focused for their second-to-last home game of the season.

The Ramblers have also looked a bit unfocused for significant stretches of their last two games. Loyola trailed by five at halftime but came back for a four-point win on the road at Indiana State, and took control late at home against Valpo after letting a seven-point lead slip away. Loyola’s defense, which gave up an average of only 58.3 points per game in their first 10 conference games, has allowed 68.6 points per game over their last five contests. And heavy playing minutes are beginning to creep back up for some Ramblers; Clayton Custer has played 35 minutes or more in five of the last six games.

Loyola trailed Evansville by eight points at halftime in the last meeting between the teams on Dec. 30, but Marques Townes led a second half comeback with 17 of his 19 points after the break, as Loyola won 66—59. Loyola is 1-3 at the Ford Center since joining the MVC, and the Aces hold a 26-19 all time advantage dating back to the 1978-79 season.

Loyola game notes: … df?id=5865

Drake game notes: … df?id=4730

TV/Streaming video: ESPN3 / … basketball


Vegas odds: Loyola by 5.5