College basketball is AWFUL in all of Illinois, yet again


depaul blue demon

What a shame. What a crying shame that Chicago, which every year has some of the best preps talent in the country, has zero going for it on the college level. Unless the Illinois Fighting Illini can somehow go 6-3 down stretch (and they face some brutal opponents so this highly unlikely) what Land of Lincoln team will get into the big dance? An improved UIC team that is 9-2 at home and 5-5 on conference could very possibly win the Horizon League Tournament, the only way they get their ticket punched. So maybe zero teams in the NCAAs this year, just like last year, just like four years ago. 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 looks mediocre at least, ending a 33 game road conference losing streak and picking up some decent non-conference wins.  Loyola (13-9, 3-6), Chicago St. (7-16, 2-2) and DePaul (10-11, 1-7) have combined to go 30-36, 6-15 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. How can such a fertile recruiting ground inspire no one good to stay home?


When it comes to Chicago St, at least I know that their program actually exists, and I know where it is; giving me superior local hoops knowledge than most fans. Seriously, that must be Tracy Dildy’s (great guy by the way) biggest challenge to recruits- convincing them his school really exists.

“Chicago’s Big Ten Team,” Northwestern 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. At 13-10, 4-6 in the Big Ten, they need to get a lot of RPI boosting wins over high ranked teams in conference play. Likely won’t happen though because they’ve been pretty awful at home. 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 might be considered the second best team in the state. Universities in this city have been playing terrible ball for many years and this year is no exception. 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. Will they ever turn it around? Oliver Purnell has been given plenty of time now to get his own guys in. Yet they’re still the pushover of the Big East. Illinois started 12-0, rose to as high as #10 in the country with wins over highly ranked Butler, Gonzaga and Ohio State. But then conference season revealed all an they’re pathetic 2-7 conference record means that during the last two years…only lowly Nebraska has a lower conference record than the Illini. At least Nebraska has football, what does Illinois have right now?

And we’re not done yet. Downstate, Bradley, located in Peoria is 5-6 in conference, 13-10 overall and Illinois State is 13-10, 4-7. The bottom of the Missouri Valley belongs to 1-10 SIU 8-14 overall. The Salukis were a fixture in the big dance last decade and even made a couple sweet sixteens. Today, Salukis coach Chris Lowery destroyed Floor Burn U. and couldn’t keep going what Bruce Weber and Matt Painter started.  SIU, like DePaul has some history, so the fact that both have been down for awhile is killing basketball in the state.

And for completeness of this article I should mention that Northern Illinois seems to have discontinued playing basketball at all, setting a NCAA record, for fewest points, 4 in a loss to Eastern Michigan.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

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  1. Gabe Salgado says

    I have been covering college basketball this season. I agree with you on some points but it’s not all bad. Illinois upsetting Indiana on Thursday should give some new life to this team. The Illini and UIC are the best prospects for post-season play at the moment. It’s just a matter of whether they’ll play in the NCAA or the NIT.

    Loyola was looking good until they lost four of their last five. They are now 13-11 and it doesn’t get any easier from here. Next up is UW-Milwaukee which is a winable game because they are the door mat of the Horizon league.

    Then they gotta play UIC whom they’ve already lost
    to this season. They also have to play Valparaiso who is the king of the Horizon League this year. They drew Kent State for Bracket Buster Saturday which is another win.

    Then they have to go to Detroit who is the other dominant HL team. They finish the season against Cleveland State who they beat earlier this year. The worst Loyola can do is 15-14 and get a CBI or CIT bid. They could even be a bubble NIT team.

    15-14 is a sure fire improvement from last year’s 7-win team. Northwestern and DePaul have very difficult schedules down the stretch. DePaul’s problem in conference play has been defense and a lack of size in the paint.

    Non-conference the Blue Demons were great. But I always felt that they should have never gone to the Big East. They also should have never let Dave Leiato leave for Virginia. Hopefully once they join their new conference it will get better. But they need to recruit bigger players and improve on defense.

    The problem for Northwestern is Bill Carmody. I never liked his coaching style, his “Princeton Offense” has no place in the Big Ten. He also doesn’t recruit anyone taller than 6’7″. He needed to be fired years ago.

    They only keep him because he takes the team to the NIT every year. At what point will the athletic department wake up and realize that “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” needs to step it’s game up. The football program did, the hoops team should follow suit.

    God Bless Tracy Dildy. So far he has been the most improved coach at Chicago State in recent years. The best thing that CSU has going for them is the Convocation Center. I will say that they have the nicest college basketball venue out of all of the Chicago teams.

    All he needs to do is recruit better talent. Hopefully the move to the WAC will help them, but I do feel that the WAC was not a good move.

    I know that Illinois State and Bradley haven’t been much to talk about. But they have improved significantly over their last couple of seasons. If they are going to have any postseason hopes, they need to finish the regular season strong and win a couple games in the MVC Tournament.

    SIU has fallen hard and fast, perhaps a new coach is in order.

  2. Mo Valley will be a one bid, conf tourney champ league

    NU making 4 and now 5 straight NITs- that’s nearly impossible. just chance and luck would eventually bump you up to the big leagues, or you fall way under .500 this year could be carmody’s last

    love the convocation center. such an underrated venue

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