The four games on the slate last night promised to be full of action. With three Chicago teams playing at home it was impossible for me to cover all the games I wanted to. I chose the UIC vs. Oregon State game and it surely didn't disappoint. The Flames came back from being seven points down to defeat the Beavers and end a six-game losing streak.
But that's not all that happened on Wednesday.
Loyola went to Bradley and pulled off an even more stunning upset as
Courtney Stanley hit a 37-foot shot at the buzzer (I promise the video is worth it!) to win it for the
Ramblers, 68-65 in Peoria. This was a great win for the Ramblers. It shows have far the
program has come already this year. The win will certainly help Loyola's RPI and it also pushed the Ramblers in the Top 200 in Ken Pomeroy's rankings. Everyone is giving the Ramblers a bit of respect.
With relatively easy games remaining in the non-conference against SIU-Edwardsville (not a gimme because it's on the road), Albany and St. Francis (IL) the Ramblers have the look of a team that should be 10-2 by the time Wright State comes to the Gentile Center on New Years Eve.
Loyola has positioned itself as the third or fourth best team in the Horizon League during the non-conference schedule. That's a huge step up from the 10th the Ramblers were picked in the preseason. Even Damon Lewis at The Mid-Majority is starting to believe.
On the other side of the spectrum was DePaul's 62-57 loss at home to American. The Blue Demons shot alright from the floor, but took just 8 free throws and allowed the Eagles to shoot 9-21 from three-point range in the loss. American out rebounded DePaul, which was without Mac Koshwal again, 38-25.
At home at Allstate Arena this is an unforgivable loss, even without Koshwal. Big East teams shouldn't lose to struggling Patriot League teams. Vlad Moldoveanu, a second-semester transfer from George Mason, lit up the Blue Demons for 26 points on 8-15 shooting.
One bright spot for DePaul. Devin Hill had another good game. He went 7-13 from the field and scored 16 points. Here's the problem. Texas State and Florida Gulf Coast, the two teams that DePaul plays next, might actually be better than America. This just proves the Blue Demons can't take either of those upcoming games lightly.
And finally there was Northwestern's ho-hum blowout over North Florida. The Princeton Offense was running to perfection against the Ospreys apparently because the Wildcats put up 84 points in 64 possessions. Six players scored in double figures and Northwestern had 25 assists versus 13 turnovers. Sure. the first half defense wasn't great, but now we're nitpicking.
Northwestern did exactly what it needed to do against an inferior opponent at home. This is the type of game that a less prepared or focused team would've let an opponent hang around, the Wildcats didn't do that and they should be commended. Now comes the last real hurdle of the non-conference season as Northwestern takes on Stanford on Saturday. It's a game the Wildcats should win, but as last night showed. You never know in college basketball.