Can anyone challenge Loyola Chicago for the title?


Missouri Valley Basketball Guard Loyola Ramblers Lucas Williamson Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

During the week of the finals for many college basketball players we have a test question. Can a Missouri Valley Basketball Conference team challenge Loyola Chicago for the league title? As we’ve seen one Valley team after another disappoint during the non-conference schedule, it seems likely that Loyola is clearly a favorite over all the other enemies in the conference.

While Drake was the official pre-season favorite and many tipsters viewed it as a four-team race, all of the work seems to indicate the Ramblers are likely to run away with the league title.

Injuries played a role in the slow start for some teams and some new players fell short of initial expectations. The Ramblers are 18th in the latest ranking of the National Assessment Tool and currently sit 24th at KenPom. Only one other MVC team is in the top 100 and it’s the injured Drake Bulldogs who walk.

Loyola scored victories over power conference opponents Arizona State, DePaul and Vanderbilt. Their only two losses were against Michigan State (by two points) and nationally ranked Auburn. Drew Valentine’s team are now receiving votes in nationally recognized polls.

Who can challenge the Ramblers? The answer to this test question can be found somewhere in a few coaching rooms and in the general psyche of several talented players. The preseason polls had the Ramblers, Drake, Northern Iowa and Missouri State all but listed as co-favorites for the Valley Crown. Today, LUC looks like the king of the hill.


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