The Loyola men’s basketball team (18-12, 11-6) can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament with a win over Bradley University in front of a sold-out Gentile Arena crowd March 2.
The Ramblers are currently tied with Drake University for first in the conference, but Loyola would own the tiebreaker after going 2-0 against Drake this season.
In their previous matchup against Bradley Feb. 13, the Ramblers struggled to contain Darrell Brown, as the 5-foot-11-inch guard scored 21 points. The junior is averaging a team-best 15 points per game this season for the Braves.
After starting its conference schedule 0-5, Bradley has been one of the hottest teams in the MVC. The Braves have won six of their last seven games, with their only loss in that stretch coming at Drake Feb. 19.
Despite being tied for first, the Ramblers have gone just 2-3 in their last five games. However, Loyola is 12-4 this season at Gentile Arena, but recently fell to Missouri State University at home Feb. 17.
After missing the first game against Bradley, Lucas Williamson will be available for the second matchup with the Braves. The sophomore guard is averaging 8.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, but he has missed 18 games this season. During that stretch, Loyola has gone 10-8 — including its loss to Bradley. Williamson was a key contributor to the Ramblers’ win over University of Northern Iowa Feb. 27, scoring 12 points and getting four steals in his first game in over a month.
If Loyola beats Bradley and Drake beats Missouri State University, Loyola and Drake would be crowned regular season co-champions. Because of the tiebreaker, Loyola would receive the first overall seed in the conference tournament.
But if Loyola loses to Bradley and Missouri State beats Drake, there will be a three-team tie atop the MVC. In this scenario, Missouri State would receive the top seed due to head-to-head records between the three schools while Loyola would get the second seed.
As for Bradley, it currently finds itself in a four-team tie for fourth place in the conference. As it stands now, the Braves are in the fifth seed, but their possible ending spot ranges anywhere from the fourth to the seventh seeds.
Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN2.