I like playing other Chicagoland teams. I wish the Wildcats would do so more often, though, I know the blame for the lack of those games rests on the other school in some cases. Nonetheless, I’m excited the NU hosts UIC tomorrow and hope this series continues in future years and that eventually DePaul, Loyola, and even Chicago State return to Northwestern’s schedule.
Northwestern is coming off a bad loss to Maryland, but I think Maryland was a talented team that will give many other squads trouble this season. Still, NU needs to play better if they want to compete in the Big Ten. UIC sits at 5-1 overall and while they haven’t posted in any huge wins, they have played a solid schedule to accumulate that record including wining three games away from home.
As a result, I don’t think playing at Welsh-Ryan Arena is going to give NU much of a home court advantage in this one, but hopefully the Wildside at least shows up. Anyhow, UIC features three experienced senior starters in Gary Talton, Daniel Barnes, and Josh Crittle. The disadvantage for the Flames is Crittle is their tallest starter at 6-9 which means NU has a distinct size advantage in the front court. I look for NU to potentially try to do to UIC what Maryland did NU and get the ball inside. I’d really like to see Alex Olah have a good game. I know I talked about a potential small lineup, but in retrospect I think maybe what should happen is Coach Carmody needs to let Olah play through some mistakes. I know a lot of NU fans are ga-ga over Mike Turner’s athletic skill and I’ll admit he’s way more athletic than any NU center I can remember, but Olah is about 1000 times better basketball player at this point and the Princeton Offense needs basketball players to work. It needs guys who can dribble, shoot, pass, etc. Not just fantastic athletes. Olah can do those things if he’s allowed to develop his skills.
Prediction: I think Northwestern wins this game because they’re due for a good shooting day and because I think Reggie Hearn, Drew Crawford, and Jared Swopshire will get some cheap points attacking against some of the smaller UIC defenders. Still, I expect a close game and I know UIC will play with a lot of intensity since they’ve got a chance to make a statement with a win over Chicago’s Big Ten Team. Northwestern, 66 UIC, 59