Tonight is one of the busiest nights of the year for college basketball in Chicago. Four teams are in action and three are playing at home. One, Northwestern, is on "national" television on ESPNU and another, Loyola, plays a critical non-conference game at Bradley.
DePaul is also in action against American at Allstate Arena and Oregon State, with head coach Craig Robinson - who began his coaching career in Chicago at the Illinois Institute of Technology - will be at the Pavilion to take on UIC.
So did the Watch Dog in RedEye pick Northwestern taking on North Florida as one of its games to watch? Nope. There on the right-hand side of Page 19 in the bottom corner is another game - Wisconsin vs. Cal Poly on the Big Ten Network. Yup, fathom that.
(The RedEye also takes a cheap shot at Wildcats basketball in the Big Ten section, but I'm going to ignore it. Still, what do Michael Thompson - above - and company need to do to get some respect?)
Anyways, the Badgers aren't important here until January 13, when they come to Evanston to take on the Wildcats, so game previews - for the Chicago games - after the jump.
North Florida at Northwestern:
Time: 8 p.m.
Accuscore Projection: Northwestern 74.5, North Florida 53.7
Pomeroy Projection: Northwestern 72, North Florida 50
Summary: This is a cupcake game for Northwestern to get fat on before having to play Stanford at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Saturday. The Wildcats should easily dispatch of North Florida (1-5, 0-2 Atlantic Sun) in much the same manner they did North Carolina A&T on Sunday. It might not be Drew Crawford going off this time, but expect at least one player to put up eye-popping stats. Maybe this is the game John Shurna finally gets back on track?
American at DePaul:
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Accuscore Prediction: American 60.5, DePaul 58.3
Pomeroy Prediction: DePaul 63, American 46
Summary: The difference in these projections is that Pomeroy's numbers don't know that DePaul is missing Mac Koshwal. Still, Pomeroy also considers American (1-8) one of the worst teams in the country this season. This isn't the Eagles squad that gave Villanova fits in the NCAA Tournament last season. The big guys are gone from that team and the offense has completely fallen apart. Even without Koshwal this is a game DePaul should win. The Blue Demons should benefit from a bunch of extra possessions thanks to American's high turnover rate and that will make the difference in the end.
Loyola at Bradley:
Time: 7:05 p.m.
Accuscore Prediction: Bradley 73.1, Loyola 58.7
Pomeroy Prediction: Bradley 72, Loyola 62
Summary: This is going to be a big test for the Ramblers. Thus far Loyola has played well at home and poorly at times on the road. The two teams the Ramblers have faced that are the caliber of Bradley - Green Bay and Kansas State - blew out Loyola on their home courts. Even if the Ramblers don't win this game they need to hang tough in this return game for last season's Bracket Buster match-up.
Oregon State at UIC:
Time: 7 p.m.
Accuscore Prediction: Oregon State 61.7, UIC 56.8
Pomeroy Prediction: Oregon State 61, UIC 50
Summary: Funny things happen when major conference teams come to Horizon League buildings. (See for instance Wisconsin's loss to Green Bay earlier this season.) UIC is hoping the magic continues against Robinson's struggling Beavers. After a breakout season in 2009 in which the team won the CBI Title, the Beavers have regressed a bit this season. Oregon State is 4-4, including a bad loss at home to Sacramento State. This game should be very interesting but UIC's inability to match-up with center Roeland Schaftenaar might doom the Flames.