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Basketball Wed Dec 19 2012

The Weird State of Chicago College Basketball

phpeoiNWPPM.jpgHeading into conference play, the area's three best college basketball teams -- Northwestern, UIC, and DePaul -- are mediocre, and don't stand much of a chance of making the NCAA tournament in March. Though the three are a combined 25-8, they've played soft schedules. Owing to that, the three are all ranked 87 and 99 nationally in stat guru Ken Pomeroy's rankings. Still, there's plenty of intrigue surrounding each program.

Northwestern is off to an 8-3 start -- though their best win came against Illinois State. The Wildcats have never made the NCAA tournament and probably won't in 2012-2013 in a loaded Big Ten. Bill Carmody, in his 13th season in Evanston, might not keep his job. If Carmody were to go, what kind of coach could NU lure in? Craig Robinson, perhaps? Does proximity to Chicago's talent pool mean as much as one would think? Or will concerns about academic standards keep coaches away?

Before last night's abysmal sixteen-point loss to Western Illinois, UIC had a good argument for the not-that-prestigious title of best team in the city. They were 9-1 -- their only loss coming on a neutral court against a solid New Mexico team -- and took down Northwestern in Evanston. But then their vaunted defense went and gave up 70 points to offensively challenged WIU. Still, nine wins is more than third-year coach Howard Moore had in his first two seasons at UIC. So that's something.

And DePaul, winners of six in a row! While the whole where-will-they-play? thing is still unresolved, we now know they won't be part of the Big East for long. The school was one of seven Catholic non-FBS/Big East schools to announce their break from the conference, effective 2015. A Catholic super-league seems to be on the way -- with one notable absence, of course. It's a positive development for DePaul, who has experienced little success in the Big East since joining in 2005.

David Banks/USA Today Sports

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