Northwestern plays UIC! Northwestern is coming off a loss to another team with "Illinois" in their name, Illinois State, so should we be worried about Illinois-Chicago? Let's find out!
OH NOES WE LOST TO UIC LAST YEAR: True, true, true. That was one of the worst losses NU has had in a while -- they were Kenpom 185, which was superseded by losing to Kenpom 187.
But it's worth pointing out that was a drastically different UIC team -- their only loss at that point was to a very solid New Mexico team, whereas this team has lost to a middling Drake squad and was blown out by an Eastern Illinois team that was in turn blown out by Northwestern. Their lone win was against something called Roosevelt. Neither of UIC's top two scorers from last year, Josh Crittle and Daniel Barnes are back.
Who do they have? Two important names to note! First up, Marc Brown, who has yet to register less than 20 points in a game. He's a 6'4 guard who has been remarkably efficient this year -- 23-for-37 from the field -- but nothing about his shooting numbers in lesser roles indicates he can keep it up.
And second up, Kelsey Barlow! You may remember Kelsey Barlow being an absolute jerk in every game he played against Northwestern while with Purdue. He was kicked off the Boilermakers' squad for, well, getting into a bar fight. He surprisingly hasn't been the team's leading scorer, but has shown a marked improvement as a distributor since his Boilermaker days, averaging 6.3 assists per game. The ball presumably goes through his hands at the point every time down the floor.
[Loretta here: Felt obligated to add Kelsey Barlow doing this to Sippin' On Purple Public Enemy #1]
Can NU lose? Why, certainly! I think if the other game showed anything, it's that NU can lose to anybody. Northwestern's loss to UIC last year wasn't so much on account of anything UIC did, but rather because the Wildcats only mustered 44 points behind an attack that was Drew Crawford or bust. Crawford did fine with 18 points on 14 shots, but the rest of the team had 26 points on 29 shots. That's not good. And that same thing has shown its ability to happen in 2013-14. And this game is "on the road" down at Flames Pavilion or whatever the UIC home court is.
But it should be noted UIC is markedly worse even than Illinois State -- they're ranked below 300 by Kenpom -- so, like, losing this would be really, really, really bad as opposed to really bad.
LET'S GET SOME REVENGE, Y'ALL.