College Basketball Weekly / Markus Spiske

Image courtesy Wiki Commons Spiske.

Nick Doherty, Columnist

Chicago-area college basketball twice weekly! Weeks 1 and 2: #19 Illini, DePaul and Wildcats rising.

Hello and welcome to a new season of college basketball! Yes I know that the season started two weeks ago but we can just ignore that. Anyways as we move into a very important week of college basketball (invitational weekend), I think it is a good time to take a look at the most important teams in basketball. The Chicago area teams! The past two weeks have been mostly positive for our teams so let’s check and see where they are.


Weeks review:


#19 Illinois:

Last week’s games-

Eastern Illinois vs. Illinois 57-87 W (STATS)

UMKC vs. Illinois 48-86 W (STATS)

Monmouth vs. Illinois 65-103 W (STATS)


Illinois came into this season with a huge question mark around them. With losing 4 out of 5 starters and bringing in tons of talented players through the transfer portal and recruiting. However, I think we are seeing a lot of those questions answered with how this team is playing. They have so far won their first three games including a 103-65 blowout of Monmouth that pushes them with momentum into a big matchup against UCLA and then possibly Baylor. The person leading the Illini to this success is Terrence Shannon Jr. who through the first three games has averaged 23 points a game which is extremely impressive from the transfer from Texas Tech. The biggest question I have for this Illinois team is whether they will become more consistent with shooting 3’s. Last game they shot 14-33 from three which was a great improvement from the 8-27 they shot against UMKC. Looking forward to next week Illinois will take on UCLA either Baylor/Virginia and then Lindenwood right after Thanksgiving. It will be interesting to see this Illinois team take on UCLA due to some of the questions still surrounding this team but I am also excited to see if they can prove themselves as a top team in the NCAA. 


My predictions for the next couple of games are:

UCLA vs. Illinois 78-72 W

Baylor/Virginia vs. Illinois (undecided who they’ll play)

Lindenwood vs. Illinois 105-62 W



Last week’s games-

Chicago State vs. Northwestern 85-54 W (STATS)

Northern Illinois vs. Northwestern 63-46 W (STATS)

Northwestern @ Georgetown 75-63 W (STATS)


Coming into this season Northwestern wasn’t expected to be a powerhouse in the Big10 and I still believe that will end up being true. But so far this season they have been able to beat the teams that they should be beating. As they travel down to Cancun for the Cancun Challenge they will end up playing more teams that they should be able to get wins against. It looks like their first challenge will probably be Auburn, so it will be interesting to see how they perform against a top ranked team. But as this season progresses it will be interesting to see how they end up performing against the top Big10 teams and see if they can surprise people. But for now Northwestern is undefeated. Looking ahead we will have to pay attention to see how Northwestern does against the teams in Cancun as they move into the ACC/Big10 Challenge.


My predictions for the next weeks games are:

Purdue Fort Wayne vs. Northwestern 88-56 W

Liberty vs. Northwestern 76-62 W

Auburn/Bradley vs. Northwestern (undecided who they’ll play)


Notre Dame:

Last week’s games-

Redford vs. ND 79-76 W (STATS)

Youngstown State vs. ND 88-81 W (STATS)


There’s not much to say about how the season has started for the Irish. They have won their first two games against two weaker teams but the margins that they are winning by make me a little concerned. They are giving up a lot of points to these teams which tells me that their defense is struggling. However, offensively Nate Laszewski is averaging 21 points a game which is good for a talented Irish team. Looking on to the next few weeks Notre Dame will not be traveling anywhere for an invitational. Instead they will be hosting the Gotham Classic in South Bend. They should be able to beat the teams that they will be playing during those weeks. So I hope that we are able to see this Irish team rebound and get to the point that they were at last year.


My predictions for next weeks games for the Irish are:

Southern Indiana vs. Notre Dame 80-54 W

Lipscomb vs. Notre Dame 84-63 W

Bowling Green vs. Notre Dame 76-70 W

St. Bonaventure vs. Notre Dame 82-80 W


University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC):

Last week’s games-

Trinity Christian vs. UIC 82-48 W (STATS)

Loyola vs. UIC 63-70 L (STATS)

JSU vs. UIC 67-60 W (STATS)


As UIC moves into the Missouri Valley Conference this season it will be interesting to see them play against some better teams. But so far this season they are off to a good start. They would end up beating Trinity Christian by a sound margin and also win a closer game against Jacksonville State. However, with a loss to another local team (Loyola) their record sits at 2-1. The past couple of years for UIC have been quite disappointing. They usually bat around .500 for the season and then would lose during their conference tournament to end their season. But with a new conference it will be interesting to see how they do there. There is a chance that they could perform better and have a good season. But we will have to wait and see how the season goes for them. Moving on to next week UIC will play in the Tom Konchalski Classic which is when we could see how this team will perform against some talented schools and then go up to play UW-Green Bay. 


My predictions for these four next games are:

UIC @ Fordham 67-59 W

Stonehill vs. UIC 74-62 W

Holy Cross vs. UIC 65-78 L

UIC @ Green Bay 58-65 L



Last week’s games-

FDU vs. Loyola 88-82 W (STATS)

Loyola @ UIC 70-63 W (STATS)


Last season it seemed like Loyola was going to have a repeat of their 2018-2019 season when they made it all the way to the Final Four. But after a loss to Ohio State their season would come to another disappointing end. With another conference change I am excited to see how this team will perform. They have so far been able to get wins over Fairlegih Dickinson and UIC which are two good wins at the start of the season for them. I think a big test for this team will be this weekend when they go down to South Carolina to play in the Myrtle Beach Invitational which is where we will be able to see how they perform against some better teams. This will be an interesting week for the Ramblers and I am excited to see where they play against these teams. 


My predictions for the Ramblers this week are:

Tulsa vs. Loyola 67-62 W

Boise State/Charlotte vs. Loyola (undecided who they’ll play)

Harvard vs. Loyola 77-64 W



Last week’s games-

Loyola (Md.) vs. DePaul 72-66 W (STATS)

Western Illinois vs. DePaul 86-74 W (STATS)

DePaul @ Minnesota 69-53 W (STATS)


Wow, DePaul might actually be good this season. I expected them to beat both Loyola and Western Illinois but then their high win over Minnesota shocked me. Now Minnesota is top tier Big10 talent but still for a team that only went 15-16 last year this is a huge win for the team. With DePaul going down to the Bahamas which is where they will face Santa Clara and UCF/Oklahoma State after the Bahamas they will end up playing Texas A&M which should be another huge game for them. These should be good matchups to test DePaul for the future especially when they hit Big East play. Overall, I am extremely excited with how this season has started for DePaul and am really interested in how the rest of it will play out. I think they will be the biggest question mark throughout the season. 


My prediction for DePaul for the next week are:

Santa Clara vs. DePaul 82-68 W

UCF/Oklahoma State vs. DePaul (undecided who they’ll play)

Texas A&M vs. DePaul 78-74 W


Chicago State:

Last week’s games-

Chicago St. @ Northwestern 54-85 L (STATS)

Chicago St. @ St. Thomas MN 83-61 L (STATS)

IUPUI bs. Chicago St. 68-58 W (STATS)


Now it’s time for the best basketball team in our entire area… Chicago State! Now I know what you’re thinking and you are right, Chicago State is not a very good team. Over the past 2 seasons they have only had 7 wins and 34 loses including calling the 2020-2021 season early due to COVID. But this season might be different, THEY ALREADY HAVE A WIN! Of course it came against IUPUI which isn’t the greatest competition but a win is still a win. Although I am optimistic about this season I know I am probably far from reality with Chicago State, however, you can always dream. Looking towards the future Chicago State has about five games that I think will be very difficult for this team and I don’t expect them to be able to win any of them. 


So my predictions for these next four games are:

Valpo. vs. Chicago St. 48-67 L

Chicago St. @ Kent State 54-62 L

Chicago St. @ Marshall 46-65 L

Chicago St. @ Cleveland State 58-72 L

Chicago St. @ Marquette 45-82 L


Power rankings:

  1. #19 Illinois
  2. DePaul
  3. Northwestern
  4. Loyola
  5. Notre Dame
  6. UIC
  7. Chicago State