By far, the best college basketball team in the state of Illinois right now is a program where most of the people involved with the team want to fire the coach. Speaking of the Illini and Bruce Weber of course. That says a lot about the state of college hoops in the Land of Lincoln. The Illini look like the state’s only NCAA Tournament team this season; juxtapose that with Indiana in 2000, when the Crossroads of America got seven teams in the big dance.
These are lean times indeed. Especially in Chicago where UIC (7-16, 3-10 in conference), Loyola (5-18, 0-13), Chicago St. (2-20) and DePaul (11-12, 2-9) have combined to go 25-66, 5-32 in conference. This is beyond pathetic and laughable. For fans to say that college hoops is really down here is a tremendous insult to the direction of down. I didn’t even include CSU’s conference record in there, because I don’t even know what conference they’re in.
But at least I know that their program actually exists, and I know where it is; giving me superior local hoops knowledge than most fans.
“Chicago’s Big Ten Team,” Northwestern may have never been to a NCAA Tournament in their entire history, but this year’s group could play themselves back on the bubble with a winning streak. Even though they’re located in Evanston, you have to include them in the Chicago pool to help augment the city’s winning percentage. They have to be considered the second best team in the state. Universities in this city have been playing terrible ball for many years, but this year truly takes the cake. Then when you combine how ridiculously bad the teams in the rest of the state are, looking at their records becomes one big disgusting glob.
DePaul is in dead last in the Big East. Loyola is dead last in the Horizon League, UIC is only one spot better. And we’re not done yet. Downstate, Bradley, located in Peoria is 1-12 in conference, 6-19 overall is dead last in the Missouri Valley. One spot ahead of them is SIU at 5-8 in league play, 8-16 overall. The Salukis were a fixture in the big dance last decade and even made a couple sweet sixteens. Today Salukis coach Chris Lowery joins Weber in the extremely low job security situation. SIU, like DePaul has some history, so the fact that both have been down for awhile is killing basketball in the state.
The third best team in the state comes from the Mo Valley: Illinois St. who are 15-9, 7-6 in league play. Maybe they can win “Arch Madness,” the league tournament and give the state a second tourney team?
And for completeness of this article I should mention that Northern Illinois is 2-19, Eastern Illinois is 9-14, SIU-Edwardsville is 7-14. But hey Western Illinois is 13-9!
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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