College hoops in the state of Illinois unfathomably AWFUL

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Tomorrow begins the month of February, meaning there’s at least six more weeks of pain and tedium this college hoops season for the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois overall. The season is already just about lost for every team in the second city.

In the Land of Lincoln overall, only Southern Illinois looks poised to contend for a NCAA Tournament berth. Illinois State has a decent conference record, but their overall mark is so bad that they need to run the conference tournament table to become relevant.

To put it another way, Northwestern, who have never made the big dance, are the city’s “good” team right now. They may even be the state’s good team, as SIU have been down for so long that I’m not quite ready to buy in yet.

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Also, don’t be fooled by their gaudy record, the Salukis RPI breakdown, Strength of Schedule and overall resume is dreadful. They’re not even close to being a NIT at-large team, let alone the big dance.

We’ll start at the bottom because “started at the bottom now we here.”

UIC is 3-18 on the season, 1-9 in the Horizon League. You could say that the UIC Flames are the nadir of the Illinois college basketball scene, but you also have Chicago State, who are 4-20, 0-7 in the Western Athletic. CSU have only been at the division I level for a short time. Their coach routinely tells the media that he has trouble convincing people that his program is actually division I.

Okay, so what’s UIC’s excuse? They’ve actually been to NCAA Tournaments in the past.

The only time anyone I know has been interested in talking UIC or CSU hoops, it’s only because the Illini were playing, and having severe issues in beating them.

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Speaking of irrelevant, let’s move on to Loyola, who are 10-12, 3-7 in the Missouri Valley. The next time someone wants to chat me up about Loyola hoops, it’ll be the first time. I should stop right there, because writing about Loyola is so bad for your page views that it somehow subtracts page views from your site.

Though it’s physically impossible, Loyola hoops is so invisible that it might make that happen (ditto for UIC, CSU). People will break into your house in order to leave you tickets to a Loyola game.

DePaul isn’t much better. They’re in the same ballpark of irrelevance to invisibility. The only conversations about Blue Demons hoops I’ve ever stumbled into involved something along the lines of “hey, remember when DePaul was a huge thing in the ’80s?

“Yeah, what happened? How did they fall off the map like that? No one cares at all these days.”

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The Demons are 1-8 in the Big East, 7-14 overall. If you think sports writing is a wonderful glamorous life, go cover a DePaul game and then reevaluate your life. Fight awful, always rush hour, city airport traffic to watch an overmatched squad in a badly aging arena built to hold 19,000 fans but only 2,000 fans show up.

Northwestern got off to a 13-1 start, but you, me and three other guys might actually pull off a couple wins against their non-conference schedule. That’s a joke, but again look up their pre-conference schedule and tell me how many teams on that list you’ve actually heard of.

Currently, they’re 3-6 in Big Ten play, 15-7 overall. Their season is far from over though. Because NU doesn’t have a basketball history, at all, this team still has a decent chance to accomplish something substantial by their school standards. We’ll cover that in more detail tomorrow.

So the total record of the five Chicagoland teams (UIC, Chicago State, Loyola, Northwestern, DePaul) is 39-81, 8-36 in their respective conferences. That’s a winning percentage of 32.5%, conference winning percentage of 18%.

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Yes, it appears college basketball in the nation’s third largest city/market, also a leading hot bed for developing talent, has reached yet another new low. It’s unfathomable that an area among the elite as far as recruiting grounds go could actually be this comprehensively awful.

It’s getting worse by the year too.

Taking it statewide, the Illini are truly a special case. #ItsNotIdeal

Midway through his fourth season, Illini coach John Groce has shown us enough to verify the idea he doesn’t deserve a fifth. It’s painfully obvious. We already looked at seven college hoops coaches who might make good potential replacements next year. Illinois is 2-6 in the Big Ten, 10-11 in league play.

As bad as they are, the biggest problems they have go well beyond a team giving questionable effort and a coach in way over his head. It’s been 83 days and counting since they’ve had an Athletic Director, and there’s absolutely no sign of them making a hire any time soon.

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The “leadership” of the athletic department is either disinterested, incompetent, or powerless to try and put out the dumpster fire right now.

Moving on to the rest of the state, just to make sure you get everybody in, Bradley is 1-9 in the Missouri Valley, 3-20 overall. So once you include them, we can move on to the window dressing with NIU (16-5, 5-3), SIU (18-4, 7-2) and ISU (12-11, 6-4). We can’t leave out everybody’s “safety schools” when they applied to college.

This triad combined computes to 46-20, 18-9. Which brings our grand total to  98-132 overall, (43% kind of respectable) 29-60 in league play (33% not respectable) for college hoops in the state of Illinois this season. That’s unacceptable, and in comprehensible given Illinois is the nation’s fifth most populous state.

Paul M. Banks owns, operates and sometimes writes The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. The website is also featured on News Now.

Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes to the Chicago Tribune RedEye. He also appears regularly on numerous television and radio talk shows all across the country. Catch him Tuesdays on KOZN 1620 The Zone.

Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

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