Chicago State (11-21) at Illinois-Chicago (17-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 20, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UIC Pavilion (6,958) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: None. CIT Record: Chicago State 0-0, Illinois-Chicago 0-0. Series Record: Chicago State leads, 34-28.
GAME NOTES: A Windy City shootout is on tap on Wednesday as the Chicago State Cougars battle the Illinois-Chicago Flames in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Chicago State earned a spot in the CIT when it defeated Houston Baptist in the Great West Tournament championship game. The Cougars had collected only nine wins during the regular season before they downed Texas-Pan American in the semifinals and Houston Baptist in the title game. This will mark the first- ever postseason appearance in school history for Chicago State, which is ranked seventh nationally in steals per game with 11.8. The Cougars had never before won a conference tournament prior to this season.
Chicago State has not been a particularly strong offensive team this season. The Cougars are scoring only 65.1 points per game and shooting at a 40.2 percent rate from the field. The Cougars couple their lackluster offensive efforts by allowing opponents to put in 68.6 points per game and sink 44.2 percent from he floor. Balance is the key for the squad as Quinton Pippen (10.3 ppg) enters the contest as the only player averaging in double figures, although Matt Ross (9.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Jamere Dismukes (9.3 ppg) are among four others putting in at least 7.8 points per game.
This will be the 63rd meeting in history between these two crosstown rivals. Chicago State holds a 34-28 all-time series edge. This will be the first encounter between these schools since 2005.
UIC will be making its fifth postseason appearance in program history and will host a postseason game at the Pavilion for the first time ever. The Flames have never won a postseason game as they are 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament and lost their only NIT game. Coach Howard Moore has a chance to break history as his team has performed very well this season. The Flames defeated Iona, Northwestern, Colorado State and Eastern Michigan during their non-conference slate before struggling throughout their Horizon League campaign.
UIC's Gary Talton was named an All-Horizon League Second Teamer as he led the Flames in scoring with 12.4 ppg, although he did shoot just 39 percent from the floor and 29.5 percent behind the 3-point line. However, Talton did lead the program in assists (4.3) and steals (1.5) and was one of the better rebounders on the squad as well with four per contest. Daniel Barnes shows up as the second-leading scorer on the team at 12.0 ppg, and paces the Flames with 72 made 3-point baskets. Recognized as one of the top newcomers in the league, Josh Crittle (10.3 ppg) finished first on the unit with 5.3 rpg, while Hayden Humes makes an impact with 10.3 points and 5.2 boards per tilt.
UIC should be able to fend off the sub-.500 Cougars to see another day. UIC has been very good at home and showed it can play with anyone in the country on several occasions this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois-Chicago 69, Chicago State 56
03/20 10:37:57 ET