Northwestern at Michigan State highlights big day in Chicago

Welcome the start of college basketball Saturday's this weekend with all five of the Chicago teams in action. Northwestern is at Michigan State, DePaul welcomes Connecticut, Loyola plays at Milwaukee, UIC plays at Green Bay and Chicago State welcomes Texas-Pan American. It should prove to be a very busy day.  

I'll be live-blogging the DePaul vs. Connecticut game here and at Rush the Court and after the jump is a quick look at what each of these five games mean.

Northwestern vs. #24 Michigan State:

  • When / where is it: Noon central at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, MI
  • What does it mean: For the Wildcats this game could be the difference between missing and making the NCAA Tournament. All of a sudden John Shurna looks healthy and the offense is on a roll. Can they keep it up against a Spartans squad that got a win they had to have against Wisconsin earlier in the week?
  • Key players: Kalin Lucas - He didn't shoot well against Wisconsin, but he still managed to score 17 points and dish out six assists against the Badgers. When Lucas is playing well the Spartans are playing well. John Shurna - He wasn't healthy the last time these two teams played. Now that he's feeling a little better can he be the difference in what should be another tight game?
  • Ken Pomeroy says: Michigan State 75-67 (80%)
DePaul vs. #9 Connecticut:
  • When / where is it: 1 p.m. central at Allstate Arena
  • What does it mean: If DePaul were to win this game it would be an epic upset and would give Oliver Purnell a program defining win. Even a close game will help the Blue Demons show progress. It might mean a little bit more for Cleveland Melvin, who was originally committed to play for the Huskies, but became Purnell's first recruit at DePaul instead.
  • Key Players: Kemba Walker - The Blue Demons couldn't stay in front of Seton Hall's athletic wings and now Walker, and his 25.3 points per game scoring average, come to Chicago. This could be a disaster. Cleveland Melvin - He's getting a lot of hype for Big East Rookie of the Year. He's not afraid to shoot. He'll be challenged underneath, but he needs to have a big game offensively for DePaul to stay in it.
  • Ken Pomeroy says: Connecticut 78-66 (87%)
Loyola vs. Milwaukee:
  • When / where is it: 1 p.m. central at U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee, WI
  • What does it mean: This is the Horizon League Game of the Week and also Loyola's last chance to prove it's not going to just fold in conference play. This is a game the Ramblers have to have. That said, Milwaukee is playing some of its best basketball of the season right now and the Panthers appear primed for another blowout.
  • Key Players: Ben Averkamp - He scored a career-high 19 points against Green Bay and against Milwaukee he'll be just as important. Anthony Hill - Really anyone can strike at anytime for the Panthers, but Hill is their most erratic player. Against UIC he scored 18 points in 21 minutes. If he has similar production against the Ramblers it'll be game over.
  • Ken Pomeroy says: Milwaukee 69-68 (57%)
UIC vs. Green Bay:
  • When / where is it: 11 a.m. central at Resch Center in Green Bay, WI
  • What does it mean: UIC is still searching for the elusive first conference victory. Any conference win has to be considered a good one and Green Bay is the type of team the Flames might be able to pick off. Still, this is going to be a tough game for UIC. Oh, and if you're wondering about the early start time. It's so all the cheeseheads can get home to watch the Packers.
  • Key Players: Rahmon Fletcher - The Phoenix point guard is their leading scoring at 16.5 points per game. He also averages 2.8 assists per game. Paul Carter - He's averaging 14.9 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game and should find life a little easier against Green Bay than he did against Milwaukee.
  • Ken Pomeroy says: Green Bay 72-63 (83%)
Texas-Pan American vs. Chicago State:
  • When / where is it: 4:30 p.m. central at the Jones Convocation Center
  • What does it mean: On Thursday Chicago State got its first Great West victory of the season, now the Cougars go for a second against a team that must love coming to play in Chicago. Of course the Broncs are a much better home than road team and so Tracy Dildy has that going for him.
  • Key Players: Carl Montgomery - There's no question, where he's on the court the Cougars are a better team. He was Chicago State's leading scorer with 25 points in the win over Houston Baptist. Perry Petty - He leads the Broncs in scoring at 16.6 points per game.
  • Ken Pomeroy says: Texas-Pan American 79-72 (73%)

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