Cleveland State's men's basketball team was able to extend its visit to Chicago, but it came with a price.
To stay in the Windy City, the Vikings first had to lose their season finale on Saturday afternoon at Gentile Arena to host Loyola, 87-60, in a game that was never close and never saw Cleveland State hold a lead.
And with the combination of other factors, the loss to the Ramblers was the final key in leaving the Vikings in the eighth seed with an opening round game in the Horizon League on Tuesday against Loyola. Instead of heading back to Cleveland after the loss to Loyola on Saturday only to return to Chicago to play at Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday, the Vikings elected to remain in Chicago.
A win over UIC on Tuesday would enable the Vikings to extend their season to a March 8 game at Valparaiso against either ninth seed Milwaukee or fourth seed Green Bay, which play on Tuesday in Green Bay.
The other first round game on Tuesday features UIC visitng Youngstown State, which finds that winner advancing to Valparaiso on March 8 to play third seed Wright State.
The other two teams with first round byes are reguar season champ and tournament host Valparaiso and runner up Detroit, which both advance to the tournament semifinals March 9.
The tournament final will be March 12 at Valparaiso if the Crusaders win their March 9 semifinal or at the home of the highest remaining seed should the Crusaders not reach the title game.
In their season finale, the Vikings, 14-17 overall with a 5-11 league mark, wrote their ticket to remain in Chicago when the Ramblers, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the school's 1963 NCAA title, rattled the rim with a 9-for-18 afternoon from behind the 3-point line with six different players finding success.
The season-long shooting problems for the Vikings contiued right to the end with CSU going 22-for-61 from the field that included only 5-for-22 from behind the arc. Having the toughest afternoon on the floor at Gentile Arena for the Vikings were senior Tim Kamczyc, who was 2-for-9 from the field, hitting just 1-of-4 from behind the arc and sophomore Marlin Mason, who was 3-of-9 in going 1-for-5 on his 3-point tries.
That didn't include sophomore Junior Lomomba, who went 0-for-6 from the floor, missed his trio of 3-point tries and split two free throw for one point.
In the loss, the Vikings had three in double figure scoring, led by freshman Bryn Forbes, who had 15 points while tying a team-best with six boards. Sophomore Charlie Lee had 13 points with four assists while junior Devon Long had 12 points and matched Forbes with six rebounds.
On the other side of the floor, senior day went well for the Ramblers, who finished the regular season even at 15-15 with a 5-11 record in the league, winning a tie breaker with the Vikings by sweeping the season series.
A career best 26 points by Loyola's Jordan Hicks came on an 11-for-15 day from the floor with Chirstian Thomas adding 19 with 8-of-12 from the line and Jeff White getting 13 points with a team best six assists.