Northwestern is off this weekend, but there are still five games between the four teams in action. Chicago State is playing at something called the Etech Lumberjack Classic, so the Cougars are playing both tonight and tomorrow. Also, the biggest game of the weekend happens at Loyola's Gentile Center on Saturday afternoon when Kansas State and Chicago's own Jacob Pullen (left) come to play at the school his mother works at.
Other games include UIC at Illinois State and DePaul hosting Ball State at McGrath Arena on Saturday night. I'll be off Buffalo, NY this weekend, but it should be a great slate of games.
Some things to know for the weekend are after the jump.
Things to know:
For Chicago State fans:
- The Etech Lumberjack Classic is hosted by Stephen F. Austin and is the first tournament the school has hosted since 1976. The other teams participating are Southern University and Central Arkansas. The Cougars were a late add to the tournament slate.
- Etech, in case you were wondering, is a business solutions company that is based in East Texas and India.
- For the record, Stephen F. Austin is actually pretty good, but Chicago State's game against Central Arkansas might be a chance for the Cougars to get another neutral court victory.
For DePaul fans:
- The game is at McGrath Arena, not Allstate Arena. It's the Blue Demons' final game at McGrath this season.
- Ball State (4-3) is not bad. Their three losses are to Butler, St. John's and Alaska-Anchorage. Alright, that last one is bad. But it was on the Division II school's home court in the Great Alaska Shootout.
- The Cardinals don't grab any offensive rebounds. They rank 308th in the country in offensive rebound percentage. So that should make DePaul's rebounding look a lot better.
- Ball State also really doesn't turn the ball over, like ever. They rank seventh in the country in turnover percentage. So whether DePaul's press can bother them is going to be key.
For Loyola fans:
- Check out Shannon Ryan's piece about Pullen coming back. Then wonder what it would be like right now if he had accepted that scholarship offer from the Ramblers way back when.
- Kansas State is good. Like really, really good. The Wildcats do almost everything well, except for one thing - shoot free throws. It's hard to explain. Also, Kansas State struggled a bit in its only true road game, a 63-58 victory at Washington State. (But the Cougars are really good too.)
- Getting tickets to the game is going to be hard. On Dec. 6 the university put out an announcement that limited tickets were available. There might be more fans at the Joseph J. Gentile Center for this game than there were for Butler. It's going to be an electric atmosphere. I might be the only college basketball writer in the city of Chicago not at the game from what I've heard.
For UIC fans:
- There are some reasons for optimism. Most of them are highlighted here.
- That said, this is a true road game and one Illinois State (6-3) has to have. I doubt that the Flames are going to be able to pull off the upset and, considering that KenPom gives UIC just a 19% chance of victory, it certainly would be an upset.
- Tony Lewis is a beast on the boards for the Redbirds. As of Sunday his rebounding percentages both ranked in the top six in the country. Thus UIC better block out.
- The game is on TV on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and there is a live blog on UICFlames.com.
It should be a fun weekend. Here's the full schedule. (All times Central.)
- Chicago State plays Central Arkansas at 5 p.m. tonight
- Kansas State plays at Loyola (IL) at 3 p.m. on Saturday
- UIC plays at Illinois State at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday
- Chicago State plays at Stephen F. Austin at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday
- Ball St. plays at DePaul at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday