Loyola Chicago coach Porter Moser has made it clear he wants his team to enter the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament so far on the right side of the bubble that the Ramblers will not necessarily need to win the event, and earn the league's automatic bid, to make the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Right now, they're in such a position — but just barely, according to CBS Sports' Jerry Palm, who has the Ramblers projected as a No. 11 seed in the latest Bracketology. So it's impossible to overstate how big Loyola Chicago's 54-52 come-from-behind victory over Valparaiso was Wednesday night. If the Ramblers would not have rallied in the second half, they would've suffered a devastating Quadrant 4 loss, damaged their otherwise nice resume, and possibly caused problems on Selection Sunday.
"We know every game is gonna be a battle," said Loyola Chicago's Keith Clemons, who finished with a game-high 16 points and five rebounds. "Everybody wants to knock off Loyola."
The win improved the Ramblers to 19-4 overall, 14-2 in the MVC. They're 5-4 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses, and being led by Cameron Krutwig, who is averaging 15.0 points and 6.6 rebounds in 27.9 minutes per game. If the 6-foot-9 center continues producing at this rate, and Loyola Chicago remains ranked and relevant, Krutwig should become the first Rambler to be a First Team, Second Team or Third Team All-American since Alfredrick Hughes was a Third Team All-American in 1985.
Loyola Chicago remains No. 23 in Thursday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The Ramblers' next scheduled game is next Friday against Southern Illinois.
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Thursday's Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Gonzaga's perfect record includes double-digit victories over Virginia, Iowa and Kansas. The Zags have won their 11 WCC games by 24.6 points.||--||6-3|
|Baylor's perfect record is highlighted by victories over Texas, Illinois, Texas Tech and Kansas. The Bears have won 15 of their 17 games by double-digits.||--||7-2|
|Michigan is 8-1 in the first two quadrants with double-digit wins over Wisconsin and Purdue. The Wolverines' lone loss came at Minnesota.||--||6-3|
|Ohio State is 9-1 in its past 10 games with wins over Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. The Buckeyes lead the nation with eight Quadrant 1 wins.||--||7-2|
|Illinois is 10-5 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Illini will take a six-game winning streak into Saturday's game at Minnesota.||--||7-2|
|Houston is 10-1 in its past 11 games with nine double-digit wins in that stretch. The Cougars are 7-1 in the first two quadrants with one additional loss at East Carolina.||--||9-0|
|Alabama is 10-5 in the first two quadrants with victories over Tennessee and Arkansas. The Crimson Tide will take a two-game winning streak into Wednesday's game at Texas A&M.||--||7-1|
|Oklahoma is 7-1 in its past eight games with wins over Alabama, West Virginia, Texas and Kansas. The Sooners have zero losses outside of Quadrant 1.||--||7-2|
|West Virginia's three-game winning streak was snapped Saturday by Oklahoma. The Mountaineers are 9-6 in the first two quadrants with zero losses outside of Quadrant 1.||--||7-2|
|Villanova's two-game winning streak was snapped Saturday at Creighton. The Wildcats are 5-3 in the first two quadrants with zero losses outside of Quadrant 1.||--||4-5|
|Texas is 6-5 in the first two quadrants with zero losses outside of Quadrant 1. The Longhorns will take a two-game winning streak into Tuesday's game at Oklahoma.||--||6-1|
|USC is 6-3 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Trojans' seven-game winning streak features victories over UCLA and Stanford.||--||7-3|
|Florida State is 7-2 in the first two quadrants with one additional loss to UCF. The Seminoles are 7-1 in their past eight games with victories over Virginia and Louisville.||--||1-9|
|Virginia's four-game winning streak was snapped Monday via a double-digit loss at Florida State. The Cavaliers are 3-3 in the first quadrant with one additional loss to San Francisco.||--||8-0|
|Virginia Tech is 3-1 in its past four games after Saturday's win at Miami. The Hokies are 7-4 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses.||--||9-1|
|Iowa is 8-6 in the first two quadrants with only one loss outside of Quadrant 1. The Hawkeyes will take a two-game winning streak into Thursday's game at Wisconsin.||--||7-2|
|Wisconsin is 8-7 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Badgers have alternated wins and losses for eight consecutive games.||--||7-2|
|Creighton is 6-1 in its past seven games with wins over Villanova and Seton Hall. The Bluejays are 11-2 in the first two quadrants with three additional losses falling in Quadrant 3.||--||6-3|
|Arkansas is 7-1 in its past eight games with wins over Missouri and Florida. The Razorbacks are 9-5 in the first two quadrants with only one loss outside of Quadrant 1.||--||8-1|
|Tennessee is 5-5 in the first two quadrants with only one loss outside of Quadrant 1. The Vols are 3-1 in their past four games with wins over Kentucky and Georgia.||--||8-1|
|Texas Tech is 3-3 in its past six games after Tuesday's double-digit loss to West Virginia. The Red Raiders are 5-6 in the first two quadrants heading into Monday's game at TCU.||--||6-2|
|Louisville's 8-3 record in the first two quadrants includes victories over Duke, Virginia Tech, Pitt and Georgia Tech. Three of the Cardinals' four losses have come inside the first quadrant.||--||0-8|
|Loyola Chicago is 5-4 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Ramblers are 12-1 in their past 13 games with the lone loss in that stretch coming at Drake.||--||4-5|
|Kansas is 7-7 in the first two quadrants with zero losses outside of Quadrant 1. The Jayhawks will take a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game with Texas Tech.||--||8-1|
|Rutgers is 5-1 in its past six games with wins over Minnesota and Indiana. The Scarlet Knights are 7-7 in the first two quadrants with only one loss outside of Quadrant 1.||--||6-3|
|Missouri is on a three-game losing streak after Tuesday's loss at Georgia. The Tigers are 6-6 in the first two quadrants with only one loss outside of Quadrant 1.||--||9-0|