Illinois-Chicago (+1.5): This is one of those “what am I missing” kind of games. What I mean by that is at first glance I’m sure many of you thought… why is 10-6 Northern Kentucky only a 1.5 point favorite over 6-11 Illinois-Chicago? What am I missing? Well to start with, Dantez Walton is still out for NKU (and we’ll get back to that in a minute) but despite what their record shows UIC actually has some talent. This is a team that was ranked 134th by Ken Pom to start the season. They start 3 seniors, a junior and a sophomore, they have above average D1 height, and really there’s no way to sugarcoat it, they’ve underachieved. We’ll briefly go down the list to show what I’m talking about… Ferguson after back to back O-rating seasons over 100 is down at 92 this year. Boahen who came into this year with a career O-rating of about 106 is at 87 this year. Ottey who came into the year with a career O-rating of roughly 104 is at 84 and has only played 7 games. I could go on but you guys get the idea, there are some good players on this team that are just struggling right now. This is a group that many (myself included) thought would finish towards the top of the Horizon this year. While that hasn’t happened yet there’s still for time for them to turn it around and a big time night home game against one of the top teams in the conference is a good place to start. Motivation wise you’d expect the Flames to be fully engaged for this one. Now back to the Walton injury that I mentioned earlier. He’s been on the shelf for 5 games and not surprisingly the Norse are only 2-3 in those 5. You also have to keep in mind that their team numbers on the season are skewed by games he’s played in. I don’t want to beat a dead horse but this is a completely different team with him out. He’s usually the best wing player on either team and it’s hard to over state how rough his absence is. At the end of the day given everything I’ve already laid out, this is a game that UIC needs to win, and frankly should win. Experienced team, at home, facing a team without it’s best player. I’ll trust they buckle down and get it done.
That’s it for tonight guys. Just one play. Good luck to you all.