Milwaukee (0-0) at Loyola-Chicago (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 8, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gentile Arena (4,486) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: Milwaukee 0-0, Loyola 0-0. Away Record: Milwaukee 0-0, Loyola 0-0. Neutral Record: Milwaukee 0-0, Loyola 0-0. Conference Record: Milwaukee 0-0, Loyola 0-0. Series Record: Milwaukee leads, 30-20.
GAME NOTES: Former Horizon League rivals will square off to start the season as the Milwaukee Panthers visit Gentile Arena for a bout against the Loyola- Chicago Ramblers.
Fresh off their first losing season in five years, the Panthers hope to rebound from a disappointing 8-24 campaign that buried them at the bottom of the Horizon League standings. Coach Rob Jeter has a handful of newcomers on his squad who he hopes can help turn things around for Milwaukee, which coasted to an 80-52 decision over NAIA foe Marian in its final exhibition game on Oct. 31.
Loyola's performance versus Division II opponent Lewis University in its exhibition game this past Saturday was not a good sign as it fell, 82-70, to the Flyers at home. Coach Porter Moser has a tough task ahead of him as he attempts to lead the Ramblers to success in the Missouri Valley Conference this season. The Ramblers finished just below the .500 mark at 15-16 last season after a late season collapse erased their promising 10-3 start. Only five of their wins in 2012-13 came over Horizon League opponents.
These former conference rivals have met 50 times in the past. They split their season series in 2012-13 with Milwaukee winning, 71-53, at home to avenge a 76-65 loss it suffered at Gentile Arena in late January.
The Panthers have a long way to go after finishing second to last in the conference in both scoring offense (62.7 ppg) and scoring defense (70.8 ppg) a season ago. Senior guard Jordan Aaron is the only returner that ended 2012-13 with a double-digit scoring average at 14.4 ppg and also handed out 4.0 apg. Although Aaron is only 5-10, his scoring ability makes him much more valuable at the shooting guard position. He will be able to play off the ball much more this year with Indiana State transfer Steve McWhorter becoming eligible along with sophomore forward Matt Tiby, who was a first-team all-state selection as a high school senior in Iowa before spending last season at Kirkwood Community College.
Loyola will most likely continue its search for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1985 after losing most of the firepower from last season's sub par unit. Joe Crisman led the team in the exhibition loss with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Christian Thomas tallied 14 points and five boards. Thomas is the top returning scorer from the 2012-13 team, during which he netted 12.1 ppg. The Ramblers have a decent sixth man in Devon Turk, who had an off-night in the exhibition with five turnovers and only five points on 2-of-7 shooting from the floor.
Although Loyola has the homecourt advantage working in its favor, Milwaukee is clearly the better team on paper. Aaron could find himself on the All- Horizon First Team if he is able to propel the Panthers back towards the conference elite.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Milwaukee 73, Loyola-Chicago 66
11/08 10:42:17 ET