With the season winding down and the No. 9 seed clinched, all the Illinois State University men’s basketball team can do is try and build momentum in the final week of play against Evansville and Bradley.
The Redbirds open the week with a tough matchup against I-74 rival Bradley.
The two teams have very different fates coming into the final week of the season. Sitting at 10-6, Bradley still has a chance to catch the 12 win No. 2 seed Loyola this weekend. While ISU has clinched the No. 9 seed, just waiting to find out its opponent.
The last time the two teams met, the Braves were hit with an injury bug. Bradley had just seven players healthy enough to step on court.
A knee injury kept Bradley junior Elijah Childs out of that Jan. 22 matchup at Carver Arena. Now healthy Childs has made an impact with double-digit scoring in the five games since his return.
Bradley comes in looking to shake off a 90-78 loss at Valparaiso. In that loss the Crusaders out-shot Bradley by nearly 15%. Valpo’s difference maker was from three-point range finishing 18-of-28 (64.3%).
On the other hand, ISU comes off a close 57-53 win over Drake at home. Red shirt junior Keith Fisher III led things for the Redbirds with 21 points. Despite it being senior night, ISU seniors combined for just eight points.
In the previous matchup against Bradley, the Braves dominated in the paints scoring 42 points en route to a 75-63 win. The Braves had three players finish in double-digit scoring.
The two worst teams in the Missouri Valley Conference face off to close out the season.
On Saturday, ISU travels to Evansville, Indiana, to take on the Aces for its final road game and final game before Arch Madness. Still looking for their first road win, the Redbirds will have a chance against the winless Evansville.
In the teams’ first game, ISU broke a seven-game losing streak with a 77-66 win at home. Last time around, redshirt senior Jaycee Hillsman led the Redbirds with 20 points. Evansville was led by Sam Cunliffe with 15 points.
With Arch Madness looming, the Redbirds will need a solid final two-game stretch to build momentum if they hope for a late run.