Northwestern-UIC basketball preview/game thread

David Banks-US PRESSWIRE

Northwestern looks to bounce back from an ugly loss to Maryland with a crosstown matchup against UIC. The Flames ain't bad, you guys!

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Sup y'all! Some Saturday matinee nonsense before the football games that matter for Northwestern happen.

Are they good?: Yeah, they aite they aite they aite. Kenpom has them at 177, which makes them the third best team NU has played. They've been purty bad in their first two years under Howard Moore - 7-24, 2-16 Horizon, then 8-22, 3-15 - but seem to have bumped things up quite a bit this year, as they're 5-1, with their only loss coming 66-59 to a very good New Mexico team in the Paradise Jam. Not an easy out, for sure. They rarely ever turn the ball over, only allowing steals on 6 percent of their offensive possessions, so the 1-3-1 might be an exercise in futility and shouldn't really be necessary anyway.

Who should NU watch the hell out for?: Toledo transfer Hayden Humes, a 6-foot-8 forward who is also shooting over 50 percent from three. Knowing NU's tendency to let random guys on random teams shoot 7-for-9 from three, this might be an issue.

Is playing UIC the best opportunity for you to post a Birdman video on this site in some time?: FIRE FLAME SPITTAS (rubs hands together)

Difference between the amount of times UIC has been to the NCAA Tournament and the amount of times Northwestern has: Three, most recently getting rocked by Wayne Simien and Kansas back in 2004. Now there's an NBA career that panned out.

What's the worst mascot name ever?: "Sparky D. Dragon", which is apparently the name of UIC's mascot. I'm really curious what the "D" stands for.

Why the Chi hate?: This is the first time NU has played UIC since 2005, when NU of course lost 71-62 at home. NU's most recent interaction with the Flames was the 2009 Chicago Invitational Challenge, where NU beat Iowa State for a meaningless tourney title at the UIC Pavilion. NU's insistence on rarely recruiting Chicago players is one thing, but I've found it really weird how NU doesn't even play schools from Chicago. Before 2008, Northwestern used to play DePaul yearly. The smell of it when that series ended was that DePaul didn't want to lose every year to NU, but this year Oliver Purnell sort of implied that the reason the teams weren't playing was because Northwestern didn't want to play them. I think NU should go out of its way to play these squads, especially now that UIC is passably good. The rest are pretty bad, but I'd rather play Loyola or Chicago State than some SWAC squad.

Should we win?: Yeah, but I think a loss is plausible. Don't let Humes get open deep and beat them the way Maryland beat NU: by being the better, more physical team.

How can I watch?: Well, it's on tape delay, but it's on the BTN Digital Network live as always. Game's at 1, I'll be radioing.

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