With USI suffering its first men’s basketball loss at home on Thursday night — and a GLVC defeat, to boot — Saturday’s home game against Wisconsin-Parkside becomes overwhelmingly important for the Eagles if they are to stay in the hunt for the GLVC Tournament’s top seed. Or even a No. 2 seed.
With Parkside’s 75-70 win at Kentucky Wesleyan, coupled with USI’s loss to Lewis, the Rangers are now all alone in first place in the East Division — a team that was picked to finish sixth in the East by the league’s coaches before the season began. Parkside has almost no fan base — its home games are attended by maybe a few dozen people at the most — so it must get all its energy from itself. How this works I have no idea, but it does for Parkside.
Meanwhile, home losses in this conference are particularly awful. They force teams to have to win on the road or fall even farther behind. And winning on the road in the GLVC this season can seem almost impossible. So USI finds itself in a difficult situation with six games left in the regular season. It now really needs to win at UIndy next week, at Saint Joseph’s, at Bellarmine — and on and on. No wonder USI coach Rodney Watson — usually upbeat after losses, always optimistic — seemed somewhat worried after the Lewis loss (although he never actually came out and said he was worried).
USI’s best hope is that everybody continues to beat everybody else, winning games nobody expects to win. It should make for a free-for-all at the GLVC Tournament at the Ford Center.