Tournaments offer Loyola, DePaul different opportunities

This week Loyola and DePaul both officially announced tournament information about events happening during the 2010-11 college basketball season. One of the events, the 76 Classic, was a foregone conclusion, while the other, a November multi-team event at the Gentile Center, wasn't scheduled until very recently. The two offer very different opportunities for the two programs.

Well it was known that DePaul would be heading to Anaheim for Thanksgiving, what wasn't known until this week is who the Blue Demons would face. It turns out DePaul will take on Oklahoma State in its first round game. The Cowboys are a decent Big 12 team, which could pose a problem for a rebuilding DePaul team. Then the Blue Demons would face either Virginia Tech or Cal State Northridge in their second round game. 
The tournament takes place around Thanksgiving, which makes for prime national television viewing. The first round game is on at 3:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2, which is an ideal time for some after turkey basketball viewing.
On the other hand, the multi-team event at the Gentile Center will feature the Ramblers and three lesser known teams. The Ramblers should be challenged, but come out on top at the event, which should give them some nice exposure in their home arena. The other teams that will be participating are Eastern Kentucky, Texas-Pan American and Indiana State. None of these teams will inspire big crowds in name alone, but they do offer interesting foes for the Ramblers.
After the jump some more analysis about the Ramblers' multi-team event and where Illinois and UIC are headed for their exempt event.

A quick summary of the three teams in Loyola's event:

  • Eastern Kentucky - Last season Eastern Kentucky went 20-11 and played in the CBI. The Colonels play in the Ohio Valley Conference, which is probably just a step below the Horizon League in terms of quality. The Pomeroy ratings had them as the 180th best team in the country. For a little perspective DePaul was 172nd and Loyola was 220th. 
  • Indiana State - The Sycamores play in the Missouri Valley Conference, but they finished a mediocre 17-15 overall and 9-9 in conference. They were 137th in the Pomeroy ratings last season thanks to the strength of the MVC in general. Indiana State also played in the CBI last season.
  • Texas-Pan American - UTPA played a difficult schedule last season and finished 6-27 overall. Most of those wins came in the fledgling Great West Conference. The Broncs are still building a foundation. They finished a dismal 325th in the Pomeroy ratings last season.
Overall, this tournament seems to suggest that at the very least the Loyola coaches and administrators expect to compete for a lower-tier tournament bid this season. While the CBI or CIT probably isn't ideal, it would be a step up for the Ramblers. An event with teams of this caliber should help boost the team's overall profile assuming that the Ramblers can pull out victories in all three of their games.
Speaking of exempt tournaments, both Illinois and UIC are going to be playing in the 2K Sports Classic. The tournament benefits Coaches versus Cancer and results in some prime time national exposure for the four top-seeded teams, which automatically advance to the semifinals. Illinois will get two warm-up games against Toledo and UC Irvine before taking on Texas at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. CT. UIC is also in the event, but its job is to act as cannon fodder for another premeditated semifinalist, Pittsburgh. Obviously this tournament will mean very different things for the two schools, because even if UIC was to pull an absolute shocker it wouldn't matter in the grand scheme of things. 

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  • Need to do some research Buddy. The OVC is not a "step below" the Horizon League and the Valley is a bunch of steps above the HL. The only team in the Horizon with any moxie is Butler. Without them the teams in the HL would all be unknown. I will not be surprised to see Eastern Kentucky beat your arse and I expect to see our Sycamores do it! Loyola will be pushed to finish the tournament 1-2.

  • In reply to ISUHOOPFAN:

    Eastern Kentucky is a good team, I'm not saying they aren't, but the Ohio Valley Conference finished last season ranked 20th out of 33 conferences overall in NCAA Division I according to Ken Pomeroy. The Horizon League was ranked 12th. The Missouri Valley Conference is a tough place to play finishing 9th overall, but I'd like to remind everyone that Loyola beat a Bradley team last season that actually finished tied with ISU in the conference standings.

  • In reply to ISUHOOPFAN:

    Mr. Templeton the fact that you said that the Sycamores are not going to come out on top at this even is ridiculous. ISU is the favorite and it's not even close especially after returning Senior coming off of injury former all big ten point guard Jake Kelly...This site just lost all credibility...

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