The 3rd Man In

Panthers begin the season in Chicago

Milwaukee Panthers (0-0) vs. Loyola Ramblers (0-0)
Location: Gentile Arena – Chicago, Illinois
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET/CT
Broadcast: WISN (AM 1130)

With the college basketball season getting underway every team has a clean slate, and the Milwaukee Panthers will look to get their season off on the right foot. The Panthers (8-24 last season) will open their season on the road as they travel to Chicago to face former Horizon League conference foe, Loyola (15-16 last season), on Friday.

The Panthers hold an overall 30-20 record over the Ramblers dating back to their first meeting in 1924, but last season both teams were able to pick up a victory against the opposition on their home court.

Since the 1994-1995 season, these two teams have been battling it out in conference play, but now they will do it as non-conference opponents as the Ramblers left the Horizon League this summer to join the Missouri Valley Conference.

This season the Ramblers will be a very young team as they only have three scholarship upperclassmen. One player the Panthers will need to keep their eye on is junior guard/forward, Christian Thomas. Last season, Thomas developed into a solid contributor for Loyola averaging 12.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field.

Thomas will most likely be joined in the starting lineup by guards Jeff White and Joe Crisman, and forwards Matt O’Leary and Nick Osborne.

The starting lineup is still up in the air for the Milwaukee Panthers, according to a coach I talked to, but it is safe to say it will probably be something close to what they featured in the exhibition game last week. They will probably use a smaller lineup with Steve McWhorter, Jordan Aaron and Thierno “BoBo” Niang at the three guard spots, and JJ Panoske and Matt Tiby starting down low. The one change they might make would be starting Austin Arians over Niang. Either way, whichever player is not starting will probably be one of the first substitutions for the Panthers.

The energy will be high in this game, as both teams will look to start their season off with a win. This will be an important non-conference game for Milwaukee against former conference opponent Loyola, as they try to show people that they will be an improved team from last season. This game will come down to the wire, and whichever team is able to do the little things right, will walk off the court with a victory.

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