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.

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#62 Valparaiso Crusaders: College Basketball 111 in 111

valparaiso basketball

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Butler’s departure from the Horizon League opens the door for the Valparaiso Crusaders to emerge as the top program in the conference.  Despite losing a pair of valuable contributors to transfer, Bryce Drew returns a veteran core that should lead Valpo to the NCAA Tournament.

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Butler Projected to Win Horizon League, Two Chicago Teams Picked at Bottom

brad stevens butler

For the third consecutive year, Butler has been picked as the Horizon League favorite in the annual preseason poll of league coaches, media and SIDs. Makes sense given how they’re coming off back to back national title game appearances, and have been far and away the class of the HL the past three college basketball seasons. (Also the only mid-major to earn their own Category here on TSB)

The Bulldogs received 468 points in the poll. Detroit, with 19 first place votes, picked up 453 points. Cleveland State received two first place votes and was tabbed third with 388 points, while Milwaukee picked up the remaining first place vote and finished fourth in the poll with 356 points. Cleveland State and Milwaukee tied with Butler for the Horizon League regular season title a year ago.

Our two local teams, Loyola and UIC, were picked dead last and penultimate. Ah yes, sweet home Chicago!

For our season preview of Butler go here

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#28 Butler Bulldogs: College Basketball 111 in 111

butler cheerleaders

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Maybe I haven’t learned my lesson and should be ranking the Butler Bulldogs higher after back-to-back trips to the National Championship game.  However, Brad Stevens loses three of his top four scorers and has a lot of inexperience on his roster.

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#58 Detroit Titans: College Basketball 111 in 111

ray mccallum jr

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

It would be sacrilegious to pick anybody but Butler to win the Horizon League.  However, if any team is capable of knocking off the back-to-back National Runner-up, it is the Detroit TitansRay McCallum returns everybody from last season including a pair of potential NBA Draft picks.

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Plan to Form a New Great Midwest College Basketball Conference

Louisville dance team

The Big East conference has too many college basketball teams. In an ideal situation, each team in a conference plays each other twice, home and away. They can’t: too many teams!

If they did this, each school would have to play 30 conference games!

Ok, then let’s try this: split the Big East into two divisions of eight and play the other seven schools in your division home and away and play the eight schools from the other division once each-four of them at home, four on the road. No, this won’t work either because this still adds up to 22 conference games, which is still too many.

And besides, if you split into divisions, the only logical way to divide them would be into an east and a west and I’m pretty sure schools like UConn, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, Villanova, and Georgetown aren’t going to be OK with being all lumped together and forced to play home and home with each other while schools like Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Marquette get shipped west and avoid the “bullies” of the conference.

I have a better solution: DePaul, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Marquette should leave the Big East.

By Adam Satorious

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Loyola Ramblers Always Seem to Give Butler Bulldogs FITS!

loyola-butler

In the modern era of college basketball, only one school in the state of Illinois boasts a national title. Guess which one.

The Illinois Fighting Illini? Sadly no, but they probably are the strongest program in the nation never to have cut down the nets. DePaul was great in the ’80s, how about the Blue Demons?

Nope, it’s actually the Loyola Ramblers, vintage 1963.

The Ramblers also went to the sweet sixteen in 1985. Unfortunately, they haven’t been back to the dance since then. But there is one team with which every game has a March type atmosphere. That would be last year’s national runner-up, the Ramblers’ Horizon League rival Butler Bulldogs.

In Wednesday night’s conference opener for both teams, the Butler-Loyola rivalry saw another nail-biter, as the Bulldogs handed LUC their first loss of the season 65-63 at the Gentile Center. Last year, when BU made their historical Final Four run, Loyola lost 48-47. I guess you could call both these games “moral victories.”

By Paul M. Banks

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