Loyola and UIC battle for Chicago

Thumbnail image for Geoff McCammon guards Robo Kreps

When Loyola and UIC play on Wednesday night all the thoughts about where each team stands in the Horizon League race will be forgotten. Sure, both teams are staring at road games in the first round, but this is about bragging rights in the city. For the seniors, of which there are many on the two teams, it is a final chance to get the upper hand.

Thus, expect big games from the guys you've heard about all season. Last time these two teams played Geoff McCammon and Robo Kreps both scored 19 points, but Courtney Stanley had his best game of the season and that was the difference for the Ramblers in the 68-59 victory at the Gentile Center.
Now the game moves to the Pavilion and the Flames need someone else to step up. Since that game, Dipanjot Singh has become an even bigger part of the offense. He and Brad Birton are going to have to step up for UIC if Howard Moore is going to take one from his old team.

What are the keys to the game from a larger overview? 

  • Well, shooting. While it sounds simple, both of these teams have struggled getting off good shots during conference play. The Ramblers rank 10th in effective field goal percentage and the Flames are 9th in the Horizon League. In the last meeting the Ramblers shot 40% from the field, but 8-19 from three, which was a huge boost.
  • Loyola needs to keep the Flames off the offensive boards. That's the biggest strength of the UIC offense and one that they've used to score points in the past. UIC has grabbed 37.8% of its misses in conference. Against Loyola last time that number was 8 of 26, 30.8%. The other big thing, like it always is, for UIC is to limit turnovers. The last time they played the Flames committed 17 turnovers. All of those empty possessions make it difficult to keep up.
  • Don't get rattled or press too hard. Both teams need to know that this game is going to finish right around the point per possession mark for both of them. There will be time for runs. A poor start or a couple missed shots in the middle aren't a problem. Keep playing through it.
Which team needs this game more? Well, that's a tough call. Loyola has 3 conference games left and almost zero chance of moving up to the 7th spot in the conference over Green Bay. On the other hand, a win might be exactly what UIC needs to stay in front of Youngstown State and grab the 9th seed in the conference tournament. That could mean avoiding an angry Butler or Cleveland State team in the first round of the tournament.
It should be a fun game. It's on ESPN3 if you can't make it to UIC Pavilion at 7 p.m. CT.

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