Milwaukee (18-12) at Loyola-Chicago (7-21)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 25th, 4:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gentile Arena (5,200) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: Lakeshore Public TV. Home Record: Milwaukee 12-3, Loyola 4-8. Away Record: Milwaukee 6-9, Loyola 3-13. Neutral Record: Milwaukee 0-0, Loyola 0-0. Conference Record: Milwaukee 10-7, Loyola 1-16. Series Record: Milwaukee leads, 27-20.
GAME NOTES: Locked in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Horizon League standings, the Milwaukee Panthers try to give themselves a leg up on the competition as they close out the regular season against the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers this afternoon.
Showing the same 10-7 conference mark as both Detroit and Youngstown State heading into the final weekend of the regular season, the Panthers assured themselves of a home game in the first round of the league tournament thanks to a 72-61 win over Illinois-Chicago on Thursday night. The win was the third in a row for a Panthers squad that had dropped four of the previous five.
As for the Ramblers, they've nailed down the 10th seed in the tournament with just one win in 17 chances thus far. Loyola, which will travel to the third seed in the tourney once that has been determined, lost a second straight overtime outing two nights ago with a 73-70 setback versus Green Bay. Two nights earlier, the team also fell to Valparaiso in a 66-62 final.
The Panthers opened their conference slate this season against Loyola at home back on December 1 and easily captured a 59-41 win over the Ramblers, which means the all-time series now shows Milwaukee ahead by a count of 27-20.
Kaylon Williams recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 assists, adding six rebounds as well for the Panthers as they extinguished the Flames on the road at UIC Pavilion. Tony Meier added 17 points, converting 5-of-7 behind the three-point line, while Ryan Allen chipped in 11 points for a team that connected on an impressive 14-of-25 beyond the arc. Scoring 63.8 ppg this season, the Panthers don't have an overpowering scorer who consistently attacks defense, instead there are three active players scoring in double figures from Williams (11.1 ppg), to Meier (10.7 ppg) and James Haarsma (10.3 ppg). In allowing just 61.6 ppg to the competition, the Panthers give themselves an edge, but that advantage could certainly be much greater if not for the fact that Milwaukee's players are shooting a disappointing 61.3 percent at the free-throw line.
The Ramblers could have easily gone to a second overtime on Thursday night, but they were spared the pain of another five minutes when Green Bay's Kam Cerroni knocked down a three-pointer with 0.4 seconds left in the three-point decision. Ben Averkamp tried to keep the hosts in the mix with his fourth double-double of the season, consisting of 26 points and 10 rebounds, but it simply wasn't enough. Also scoring in double figures for the hosts were Joe Crisman with 12 points, adding six assists, followed by Jordan Hicks and Denzel Brito with 10 points apiece. The leading scorer for the Ramblers in five straight games, Averkamp paces the program in both points (15.2 ppg) and rebounds (7.3 rpg) and is also first with 26 blocked shots and second in steals (23) and assists (2.5 apg) which makes him the most versatile performer on the roster. Unfortunately, the team as a whole is posting just 56.3 ppg, but at least they are giving themselves a fighting chance by holding the opposition to 61.8 ppg.
With their second-leading scorer, Walt Gibler, on the bench with a shoulder injury, the Ramblers simply don't have the leadership they need in order to get over on Milwaukee today, especially since a win doesn't change the postseason fortunes of the hosts at all anyway.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Milwaukee 68, Loyola-Chicago 53
02/25 11:05:46 ET