Note: This is the weekly spot where I'll recap what happened for
each of the five teams this blog covers and rank them. The rankings are
a combination of subjectivity and statistical analysis. It includes RPI, Basketball State, Ken Pomeroy and my own observations.
- DePaul (2-1)
- Northwestern (2-1)
- Loyola-Chicago (2-1)
- Chicago State (3-1)
- UIC (1-1)
Notes and justification after the break.
DePaul: The Blue Demons opened play last week with an impressive victory over Northern Iowa and then managed to suffer a "good loss" against #11 Tennessee. DePaul's defense is world's better than last season, at least through the first three games, and that's important because DePaul's offense still isn't very good. The Blue Demons are getting a great effort from Mac Koshwal (15 points per game, 13 rebounds per game) and Jeremiah Kelly has displayed a strong all-around game in his sophomore season. The tests keep coming this week with a game against St. Joseph's and a home game against Detroit.
Northwestern: The RPI doesn't like teams that lose on their home court. That's why the early season one doesn't like the Wildcats and their loss to Butler last week. The Butler loss wasn't bad by itself, but, coupled with the close victory over Tennessee State, there are some questions popping up about Northwestern. Michael Thompson has been out-of-this-world good (19.7 points per game, 3.3 assists per game), but John Shurna and others have been inconsistent. The game against Liberty should be another tuneup for the big match-up of the week on Friday against Notre Dame at the UIC Pavilion.
Loyola (Ill.): The Ramblers are 2-1 and have victories over Canisius and Holy Cross - with the victory over the Crusaders on the road nonetheless. Those are solid, if unspectacular victories, which will go a long way towards establishing Loyola as a young program on the rise. Early returns are that young really is going to be fun, with bench players Marcus Thomas (14.3 points per game) and Walt Gibler (12.7 points per game) doing a lot of the damage. But everyone knows that it's really Courtney Stanley (8 assists per game) who is the real driver of the offense. A week of Western Michigan and St. Ambrose at the Gentile Center should result in a few more victories and happy fans in Rogers Park.
Chicago State: Though they have three victories, the Cougars have yet to beat an NCAA Division I opponent. That is killing the RPI at the moment and confusing other observers. The Cougars can run, but with only Eastern Illinois on the docket this week it's still going to be tough to figure out exactly what head coach Benjy Taylor has. The second and final weeks of December are where this team will really make its mark in the non-conference schedule.
UIC: Robo Kreps is leading the Flames as expected. He's scoring 15.5 points per game in 36.5 minutes per game. Trouble is he's not getting much help. Through two games Kreps is the only Flame with a positive assist to turnover ratio. UIC plays two Missouri Valley Conference squads in Illinois State and Southern Illinois this week. Keeping those games close would probably be a small victory for the Flames as Jimmy Collins continues to shuffle through rotations.