The 2020-21 college basketball season is rapidly approaching tournament time. This time of year a lot of die-hard college basketball fans like to focus on projections and bubble teams. People like to focus on the bigger conferences but it’s always the mid-majors that make the most noise. This past weekend in particular was one of those times. The Missouri Valley Conference was in the spotlight as two of its top teams in the conference were set to play two games on Valentine’s Day weekend. Both games really got a lot of people excited about the outcome of this specific conference. It looks like both teams are headed for a tournament spot even if they do not win the conference tournament.
Missouri Valley Headlines Mid-Major Games this past Weekend
Loyola IL Ramblers came into the week ranked at #22 for their two-game series with the Drake Bulldogs. Drake came into the weekend without their top scorer and overall best player, ShanQuan Hemphill, as he underwent foot surgery on Friday and is expected to miss a month. The senior leads the team in scoring averaging 14 points a game.
Drake Stumbles on Saturday Losing 81-54
On Saturday, Drake really showed that they missed their top scorer as they got toppled by 27 to the Ramblers only scoring 54 points on the afternoon. The Bulldogs held a lead at halftime, 34-31. But it was the second half that really painted the picture of the game. Loyola offensively scored with ease, dropping in 50 second-half points to Drake’s 20. Aher Uguak had a really efficient game scoring 20 points on 8-10 shooting for Loyola. No Bulldog scored over 12 points on Saturday afternoon.
A lot of offense for both coaches was initiated inside of the three-point line, with only a combined 24 threes taken. The Bulldogs hit three of the 13 that they attempted, and the Ramblers hit five of the 11 that they put up. Another key in this game was rebounding. Loyola won the board battle going +10 in the category. Even without the leading scorer for Drake, Loyola looked legit.
Missouri Valley gets Round Two on Valentine’s Day, Drake keeps At-Large Bid Alive
The two Missouri Valley squads went for round two on Sunday afternoon to cap off the ranked play for the day. This time it was a low scoring affair for both teams. Drake showed a lot of heart on Sunday after getting dominated by 27 points the day before. The Bulldogs and Ramblers had a tight first half with Loyola taking a three-point lead into the locker room.
The fate of Drake needing to win the Missouri Valley tournament to pave their way to a spot in the tournament was all up to the final 20 minutes. This was a must-win moment for Drake. The Bulldogs were led by Tremell Murphy as the game went into overtime all tied up at 45. Drake eventually got through the overtime period with a one-point victory, 51-50. The weekend was split as the fight for the Missouri Valley Conference is on the front burner for college basketball fans.
What The Missouri Valley Looks Like
With the weekend ending, Loyola sits atop the Missouri Valley with a 18-4 (13-2) record. With Drake splitting this weekend with Loyola, the Bulldogs sit at 20-2 (11-2) half-way through February.
These two teams will definitely be two of the most-watched mid-major teams as we come into the month of March. It should be a fun month of basketball leading up to the tournament.
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