NCAA Talk

Northern Iowa, Wichita State part of Missouri Valley doubleheader on CSN+

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Northern Iowa, Wichita State part of Missouri Valley doubleheader on CSN+

Conference play is just getting started in college basketball as CSN+ will have a Missouri Valley Conference doubleheader on Wednesday night.

In the first of two live matchups, Wichita State will travel to face Indiana State in a 6 p.m. tip that will mark the conference opener for both teams. In the second game of the doubleheader, Missouri State will head to Northern Iowa for an 8 p.m. tip. Both games can be found on CSN+.

The Shockers (10-3) are moving on without graduated seniors Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet but they're still a top-flight program thanks to some solid recruiting from head coach Gregg Marshall. Wichita State is led by balanced effort that includes double-figure point production from junior forward Darral Willis Jr (11.5 ppg)., sophomore forward Markis McDuffie (11.3 ppg) and junior forward Zach Brown (10.0 ppg). With 10 players averaging at least 13.4 minutes per game, Wichita State should be one of the deepest teams in the Valley this season.

Indiana State (6-6) has been inconsistent this season. The Sycamores own an impressive win over No. 16 Butler earlier this season but they've also lost to teams like Northern Illinois and Quinnipiac. Junior guard Brenton Scott is one of the conference's best scorers as he's pumping in 19.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game so far this season. 

The second game of the doubleheader is also the conference opener for both teams.

Missouri State (9-4) is coming off of a solid showing in the Las Vegas Classic as they fell to No. 23 USC before beating DePaul by double-digits. Junior forward Alize Johnson (13.2 points, 9.2 rebounds per game) is off to a good start while junior guard Ronnie Rousseau III (12.8 points, 2.8 assists per game) helps lead the offense. 

Northern Iowa (5-6) has dropped back-to-back games to Iowa and No. 8 North Carolina as they're trying to figure things out for conference play. Senior guard Jeremy Morgan is having a stellar season for the Panthers as he leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Morgan is averaging 16.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.8 blocks per game so far this season.

Say it ain't so: DePaul commit Tyger Campbell reopens recruitment

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AP

Say it ain't so: DePaul commit Tyger Campbell reopens recruitment

It looks like it was too good to be true.

Tyger Campbell shocked the recruiting world when he committed to DePaul on May 8.

Less than four months later, Campbell has reopened his recruitment.

The Rivals.com four-star point guard out of La Lumiere High School in Indiana, who is the No. 66 prospect in the 2018 Class, took to Twitter Friday night to explain his decision.

One of Campbell's original draws to the Blue Demons was DePaul hiring Shane Heirman as an assistant coach. Heirman coached Campbell for two seasons at La Lumiere.

"I like DePaul and honestly my coach (Shane Heirman) just went there and we have a great connection and he's always had my back," Campbell told Scout.com when he committed to the Blue Demons. "I like [DePaul] coach Dave Leitao, too. I like his program and he's an intelligent guy."

Campbell currently has offers from a handful of D1 schools, including Illinois, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Purdue, SMU, Memphis and Tennessee.

Upset alert? Why a confident UIC is challenging juggernaut Kentucky

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USA TODAY

Upset alert? Why a confident UIC is challenging juggernaut Kentucky

On the heels of a 12-win improvement, UIC basketball is riding confidently into the new season. 

And why shouldn't they be? Head coach Steve McClain returns a young, talented nucleus that's expected to challenge for a Horizon League championship and NCAA Tournament berth. 

In fact, the program is in such good shape that they thought: Let's play Kentucky. 

Yup, that's right. The UIC Flames will match up with the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena on Nov. 26, a necessary stage in development, according to McClain. 

“Every year you build your program, there’s steps you have to take," McClain said. "When we got the opportunity to go to Kentucky, I think that’s the next level of exposure for our program.

"When you're chasing trying to be great, you gotta show your kids and show people what greatness looks like. I don't think anyone can argue what Kentucky has done, so I want to put our kids in that environment so they see what it is." 

The contrast between programs is severe. UIC hasn't made an NCAA Tournament since 2004. The Wildcats have made 11 since then. UIC has never advanced out of the first round at the Big Dance. Kentucky has eight National Championships. 

Even this upcoming season, as the Flames boast one of their most skilled teams in school history, none of them were ever touted like Kentucky's freshman class, which ranks No. 2 in the nation per ESPN. 

But the disparities in past successes don't seem to bother UIC. Instead, players, who were likely snubbed by bigger schools in recruitment, are excited about the opportunity to compete on a national stage that the Flames rarely see. 

“First I was like, ‘It’s about time we got someone like (Kentucky) on our schedule,’" said center Tai Odiase, one of the few seniors on the roster. "We’ve been trying to play bigger teams to showcase what we’re made of."

“I don’t see why you go into a place like that without a chip on your shoulder. You don’t go in there just to play basketball, we’re trying to win."

UIC will be heavy, heavy underdogs. There's no way around that. But there are certain spots where they may not be at such a disadvantage. 

On the defensive end, Odiase continued to terrorize guards and big men alike, finishing fifth in the NCAA with 2.9 blocks per game. The dynamic guard duo from "The Six," Godwin Boahen and Marcus Ottey, are quick enough to hang and both took a huge step down the stretch last season. Then there's the return of 2015-2016 Horizon League Newcomer of the Year Dikembe Dixson, who is recovering from a torn ACL.

"The doctors at times thought he was a freak of nature because he was back as quick as he was," McClain said.  

Still, it's a tune-up game for Kentucky, who also scheduled Kansas, UCLA and Louisville on their non-conference slate. But one team's expected walk through is another team's vital experience. 

"Our guys can walk in and see that on a given night, you can compete with anyone," McClain said. 

Given new athletic director Garrett Klassy's comments at his introductory press conference, it doesn't seem as if games like this are a one-hit wonder for UIC. 

“I am an aggressive scheduler," Klassy said. "I helped with the scheduling at George Washington. We’ll play anyone, anytime, anywhere.

"You want to measure yourself against the best. We have a lot of returning starters. It’ll be nice to go on the road, play a tough game and maybe sneak out an upset."