(Photo: Chicago State Athletics)
Since Saturday I’ve read and heard a lot of talk about the level of excitement for the Illinois game on February 12th. While I appreciate the enthusiasm many people have for seeing the Wildcats take on their intrastate rivals on national television, I don’t want people to forget NU has a home game this Wednesday against Chicago State. Naturally, some people are going to react to this news with the response of, “Chicago State, who cares?” The answer is that anyone who is an NU fan should. Why? Well, I suppose I could claim that this is a rivalry, but realistically, despite the teams’ proximity to each other it really is not. Northwestern has never lost to Chicago State, and the odds strongly favor an NU win Wednesday night. However, that is not an excuse to stay home. First of all, the game isn’t on TV (it’s being webcast, but that’s not the same), so if you want to see the contest, the best way to do so is in person.
So, the question becomes, why do you want to see this game? Well, first off, Chicago State is not a total cupcake opponent. They have a 12-11 overall record and possess an outside shot at making a postseason tournament. Second, Chicago State point guard David Holston is one of the most exciting players in college basketball. The 5-8 Holston averages 26.3 points per game, the third most in the country. The anticpated shooting dual between Holston and Craig Moore could be the best under the radar star collision of the season. Most people don’t even know this matchup is occurring, but those who see it will not be disappointed. The third reason fans should show up is very simply the fact Northwestern is a good basketball team right now. If you’ve suffered through the amount of bad basketball most NU fans have, there is no reason to ignore the team when they are playing well. Though the Wildcats have a great chance at the postseason, nothing is guaranteed right now. The team can’t afford to take the night off against CSU and the fans can’t afford to either. I know the team appreciates it when fans, especially student fans, show up and rock Welsh-Ryan Arena. It helps provide energy which allows for the great play we’ve seen in recent games. It helps them win. That’s why the team comes over and shakes hands with the students after each victory. As I walked out of Welsh-Ryan on Saturday, somebody yelled, “Great job student section.” That person was right. The student section did a great job. They helped the ‘Cats win. Now they, and all other Wildcat fans, need to keep it up. Folks, if you have a real reason not to visit Welsh-Ryan Arena Wednesday I can understand, but don’t stay home just because the opponent is Chicago State—that’s a bad excuse. If the opponent was Duke you’d show up. And guess what? Right now for Northwestern, Chicago State might as well be Duke. As Northwestern pushes for their first ever NCAA Tournament bid, every game becomes the biggest game of the year. So on Wednesday, let’s pack the student sections, stand up in the purple seats, and go nuts in the bleachers, as we cheer the Wildcats to win number lucky 13.