M bball: SIU still ranked despite loss

By Gus Bode

The Saluki basketball team is approaching history even after losing Sunday.

SIU is ranked No. 14 in the AP Top 25 and No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today Poll, marking the fifth week in a row the Salukis have been ranked, one week short of the longest stretch in SIU history, set in 2004.

The 2004 season was the previous school record for highest ranking, when the Salukis appeared at No. 15 in both polls. Last week, SIU was 11th in both polls.

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The Salukis (27-6, 15-3) went 2-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, winning in the first two rounds against Drake and Bradley before dropping the championship game to Creighton (21-10, 13-5).

The 67-61 loss to the Bluejays ended SIU’s eight game winning streak over Creighton, dating back to Feb. 7, 2004.

Week 18 AP Top 25 1. Ohio State (70) 27-3 1,798 2. Kansas (2) 27-4 1,706 3. Wisconsin 27-4 1,599 4. UCLA 26-4 1,583 5. Memphis 27-3 1,481 6. Florida 26-5 1,433 7. Texas A’M 25-5 1,383 8. North Carolina 25-6 1,331 9. Georgetown 23-6 1,205 10. Nevada 27-3 1,013 11. Washington State 24-6 986 12. Louisville 22-8 892 13. Pittsburgh 25-6 882 14. Southern Illinois 27-6 878 15. Texas 22-8 868 16. Oregon 23-7 662 17. Maryland 24-7 639 18. Marquette 23-8 536 19. Butler 27-5 517 20. Notre Dame 23-6 442 21. Duke 22-9 284 22. Tennessee 22-9 243 23. Brigham Young 23-7 186 24. Winthrop 28-4 162 25. UNLV 25-6 125

Week 18 ESPN/USA Today Poll 1. Ohio State (30) 27-3 774 2. Kansas (1) 27-4 731 3. UCLA 26-4 678 4. Wisconsin 27-4 675 5. Memphis 27-3 641 6. Florida 26-5 629 7. Texas A’M 25-5 594 8. North Carolina 25-6 557 9. Georgetown 23-6 502 10. Nevada 27-3 438 11. Pittsburgh 25-6 418 12. Washington State 24-6 413 13. Southern Illinois 27-6 355 14. Texas 22-8 347 15. Louisville 22-8 313 16. Notre Dame 23-6 303 17. Butler 27-5 283 18. Oregon 23-7 254 19. Marquette 23-8 192 20. Maryland 24-7 191 21. Duke 22-9 118 22. Winthrop 28-4 114 23. Brigham Young 23-7 83 24. Virginia 20-9 81 25. UNLV 25-6 58

The Salukis’ loss also snapped a 13 game winning streak that began Jan. 20 against Creighton. SIU beat the Bluejays 58-57 on a final-possession basket by sophomore guard Bryan Mullins.

Creighton’s MVC tournament championship guaranteed it a bid in the NCAA Tournament, to begin March 15.

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The Salukis, having made the last five NCAA Tournaments and ranked in both major polls, are a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament. But after Sunday’s loss to Creighton, SIU’s eventual seeding could take a hit.

Saluki coach Chris Lowery, however, said he doesn’t care about a drop in seeding because SIU should be seeded higher than seventh, the current school record.

“There are other people who are going to lose twice from here until the NCAA because there’s some conference tournaments still to be played,” Lowery said. “We can’t focus on the seeds right now, we got to make sure that our psyches are in the right frame of mind.”

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