Friday, March 2, 2018 12:00 p.m.
Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Mo.
Loyola faces Northern Iowa just 16 hours after UNI’s 60-50 win over Evansville in the opening game of Arch Madness 2018. UNI got the win by holding the MVC’s leading scorer Ryan Taylor to a season-low two points on 1 of 13 shooting. Wyatt Lohaus led UNI with 15 points, and Hunter Rhodes added 14 more points.
The Ramblers have spent the past week going to class, practicing, collecting hardware (Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year) and doing media interviews (USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Loyola Phoenix, local TV, etc.). This is different from the usual Ramblers routine of game prep in relative obscurity. But it’s important work introducing the MVC to the Chicago media.
Many other Arch Madness #1 seeds have had struggles after a long, distracting layoff. None of them lost in the #1 vs. 8/9 game (Friday), but 10 #1 seeds have lost in the semifinals (Saturday), and nine #1s have lost in the finals (Sunday). That leaves only eight #1 seeds winning the conference tournament championship in the 27 years of Arch Madness. In a year of parity for the Missouri Valley (seeds 2 through 10 bunched within a range of 90 RPI rankings), just about anything can happen if someone gets lucky.
Loyola swept UNI during the regular season, with a 56-50 win on Jan 7, 2018 in Cedar Falls and a 70-47 win on Jan. 28, 2018 in Chicago. Clayton Custer led the Ramblers in scoring in both games, notching 11 points on the road and 21 points at home. Donte Ingram led Loyola in rebounding both times.
UNI won three of their last four games to work their way up to the 9 seed in the MVC Tournament. Perhaps the biggest change since Loyola and UNI last met is the emergence of 6’1″ sophomore guard Hunter Rhodes as a much more prominent part of the team. Beginning with the game after UNI’s last loss to Loyola, Rhodes has averaged 7.9 points per game over the last nine contests after scoring only 16 points in his first 13 games. Rhodes joined the starting lineup for the past five games.
The Ramblers are 6-5 against the Panthers since joining the MVC, 3-4 at Arch Madness, and 0-1 against UNI at Arch Madness. UNI lost their only game in last year’s Arch Madness as the 3 seed, but UNI had won six Arch Madness games in a row before last year. Since Ben Jacobsen was promoted to head coach in 2006, UNI has won at Arch Madness four times and have an overall record of 14-7.
Arch Madness Tournament Notebook: http://mvc-sports.com/news/2018/2/26/ar … ebook.aspx
Loyola game notes: http://www.loyolaramblers.com/documents … df?id=6893
Opposition game notes: https://unipanthers.com/documents/2018/ … df?id=3812
TV/Streaming video: NBC Sports Chicago / http://stream.nbcsports.com/rsn/nbcs-chicago
Vegas odds: Loyola by 5.5