The Loyola men’s basketball team (9-2, 1-0) was handed another blow when its previously scheduled game on the road against Illinois State University Jan. 5 was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns within the Redbirds program.
This is the fifth game in a row that has been either canceled or postponed for the Ramblers in the wake of the recent surge of COVID-19 cases across the country. Cases in Chicago continue to rise, with the city holding a daily positive testing rate of 23.6% as of Jan. 3.
Loyola Athletics made the decision to forgo the final two games of 2021 against non-conference competitors Norfolk State University and Davidson College Dec. 17, citing positive COVID-19 tests within the Ramblers program.
The Dec. 19 game against Norfolk State and the Dec. 22 game against Davidson were officially canceled, meaning they will not be rescheduled for the 2021-2022 season.
Meanwhile, Loyola wasn’t the decision maker for the other three missed matchups, as each of the first three games scheduled in 2022 were postponed or canceled due to health concerns and positive cases on the opposing teams.
Although Southern Illinois University (SIU) was unable to host Loyola for the scheduled Jan. 2 game due to health and safety concerns within the program, the Ramblers sought to replace the game with another against Saint Xavier University for the same day.
Less than 24 hours after the scheduling announcement, Saint Xavier withdrew from the game due to positive cases within the team’s personnel, according to Loyola Athletics.
The losses kept coming for Loyola, as its Jan. 5 matchup against Illinois State was also postponed Jan. 3.
Both the games between SIU and Illinois State have been postponed, meaning the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) offices will attempt to reschedule the matchups so as to not disrupt conference play.
According to the MVC, a team is required to play a conference game if it has one or more coaches and eight or more players available to participate. In the event a postponed game cannot be rescheduled, it will be listed as a “no contest.”
Loyola hasn’t hit the court for competition since it met Vanderbilt University in Nashville Dec. 10, where the Ramblers took down the Commodores 69-58. Redshirt junior guard Braden Norris led Loyola with 18 points and nine assists during the victory.
The missed games seem to have had little effect on where Loyola stands nationally, with the Ramblers receiving 40 votes in the Week 9 AP Top 25 Poll Jan. 3 to become the unofficial No. 28 team.
This is exactly double the amount of votes Loyola received during the Week 6 poll, which came out Dec. 13 after the team played its last game Dec. 10.
The Ramblers look to return to Gentile Arena to face Bradley University Jan. 8, providing both teams remain free of COVID-19 cases. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the game is set to be broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago.