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.
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.