NCAA Talk

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."

NBC Sports Chicago announces 2017-18 college basketball schedule

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NBC Sports Chicago announces 2017-18 college basketball schedule

Men’s and Women’s Game Schedule includes area contests featuring UIC, Illinois State, Loyola, Bradley, SIU, EIU, Valparaiso, Northern Iowa, Drake, DePaul, Northwestern, and more!

Local coverage begins with the UIC Flames hosting St. Joseph’s on Monday, November 13 at 7:00 PM CT featuring Jordan Bernfield & David Kaplan with the game call!

NBC Sports Chicago live stream available 24/7 on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive  or via the NBC Sports app

Chicago, IL (November 6, 2017) – NBC Sports Chicago, the multi-platform home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, is ready to bring college hoops fans another exciting season of action-packed NCAA basketball featuring a total of 65 men’s & women’s contests, featuring many of the area’s top teams and players.

NBC Sports Chicago viewers can look forward to the very best in local/regional basketball action featuring the Horizon League’s UIC Flames (eight games), along with Missouri Valley Conference action highlighted by Loyola (eight games), Northern Iowa (eight games), Bradley (seven games), Illinois State (five games), Southern Illinois (four games), Drake (four games), Valparaiso (three games), along with MVC #1-ranked pre-season favorite Missouri St. (ten games), plus – live coverage of the always-competitive MVC Tournament beginning March 1.  NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago live stream also available to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app.

NBC Sports Chicago’s early season men’s collegiate basketball schedule gets underway with the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Flames hosting St. Joseph’s on Monday, November 13 at 7:00 PM CT LIVE from the UIC Pavilion.  The game announcing tandem for Flames games on NBC Sports Chicago this season features Jordan Bernfield (play-by-play) and NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan (analyst).  NOTE: ESPN Radio 1000’s Jonathan Hood will be filling in for Kaplan as game analyst for the UIC match-ups against DePaul and Wright St.  In addition, Bernfield will also handle play-by-play duties for every Loyola game on NBC Sports Chicago’s schedule this season, which also features ESPN Radio 1000’s Jeff Dickerson handling color analysis.

Among the key regional match-ups on the schedule this season include UIC at Loyola (Dec. 2), DePaul at UIC (Dec. 9), UIC at Illinois St. (Dec. 19), SIU at Northern Iowa (Dec. 28), Bradley vs. Loyola (Jan. 13 & Jan. 31), Drake at Northern Iowa (Jan. 16), Missouri St. at SIU (Feb. 14), and Bradley at Valparaiso (Feb. 17) among many others. Note the attached schedule for a complete list of men’s games this season on NBC Sports Chicago and on NBC Sports Chicago+.

NBC Sports Chicago’s women’s basketball schedule includes six games featuring USA Today Coaches Poll pre-season #20-ranked/four-time defending Big East Conf. champion DePaul Blue Demons the first Blue Demons telecast taking place on Saturday, December 30 at 7:00 PM CT live from the brand new Wintrust Arena in downtown Chicago vs. St. John’s.  Additional DePaul match-ups on NBC Sports Chicago’s schedule include games against Marquette (Jan. 4), Xavier (Jan. 12), Creighton (Feb. 2), Providence (Feb. 4), and Georgetown (Feb. 16).  In addition, NBC Sports Chicago will also carry the Big Ten’s Northwestern Wildcats in action on Dec. 16 at Missouri St. (note the attached schedule for a complete listing of women’s games this season).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Numerous men’s and women’s games on NBC Sports Chicago’s college basketball schedule this season will air exclusively on NBC Sports Chicago+. NBC Sports Chicago+ (NBCSCH+) is available in high-definition on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area/South Bend, IN & on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 285 in the Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets, along with being made available in DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T, RCN, and WOW! homes among numerous other carriers and streaming services; viewers are urged to visit NBCSportsChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER page for complete channel location details.

In addition to game coverage, NBC Sports Chicago will once again provide college basketball fans with team college coaches show this season (air dates may vary during the season) – Tuesdays (beginning in early December): Inside Notre Dame Basketball with Mike Brey (5:30 PM)…Wednesdays (beginning in late December): The Foundation: Northwestern Basketball (5:30 PM)...and The Steve Prohm Show: Iowa State Basketball (Season Preview Special - Mon, Dec. 11 at 5:30 PM; weekly airings on Mondays at 5:30 PM begin in January).

2017-18 MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL on NBC SPORTS CHICAGO & NBC SPORTS CHICAGO+

  1. Mon, Nov 13    11:00 am   Jacksonville St. @ Richmond   LIVE
  2. Mon, Nov 13      7:00 pm    UIC:  St. Joseph’s @ UIC           LIVE
  3. Mon, Nov 13     7:00 pm     UNI:  Alcorn State @ Northern Iowa    LIVE   NBCSCH+
  4. Wed, Nov 29      6:00 pm    Vermont @ Richmond     LIVE   NBCSCH+
  5. Fri, Dec 1            7:00 pm      Bradley:  E. Illinois @ Bradley    LIVE   NBCSCH+
  6. Sat, Dec 2            3:00 pm     Loyola:  UIC @ Loyola             LIVE
  7. Sat, Dec 2            3:00 pm        IL ST:  Tulsa @ Illinois State   LIVE   NBCSCH+
  8. Sat, Dec 2            7:00 pm       Missouri St. @ S. Dakota State   LIVE   NBCSCH+
  9. Mon, Dec 4         7:00 pm        Missouri St. @ N Dakota St   LIVE
  10. Thu, Dec 7           7:00 pm       UNI:  UT-Arlington @ Northern Iowa      LIVE
  11. Sat, Dec 9             3:00 pm       UIC:  DePaul @ UIC              LIVE
  12. Sat, Dec 9       3:00 pm        IL ST:  Murray State @ Illinois State      LIVE   NBCSCH+ 
  13. Sat, Dec 9         5:00 pm     James Madison @ Richmond      LIVE     NBCSCH+
  14. Sun, Dec 10             3:00 pm       Missouri St @ Oral Roberts  LIVE      NBCSCH+
  15. Tue, Dec 19              7:00 pm      IL ST:  UIC @ Illinois State         LIVE
  16. Fri, Dec 22                8:00 pm       MVC:  Loyola @ Missouri State    LIVE
  17. Sat, Dec 23               1:00 pm       MVC:  Illinois State @ Evansville    LIVE               
  18. Thu, Dec 28              7:00 pm       MVC:  Valparaiso @ Indiana State   LIVE
  19. Thu, Dec 28    7:00 pm   MVC:  Southern Illinois @ Northern Iowa  LIVE   NBCSCH+
  20. Sat, Dec 30               3:00 pm        MVC:  Evansville @ Loyola     LIVE
  21. Sun, Dec 31             3:00 pm         MVC: Missouri St @ Valparaiso   LIVE  NBCSCH+
  22. Wed, Jan 3                7:00 pm         MVC:  Indiana St @ Loyola         LIVE   NBCSCH+
  23. Sat, Jan 6                  3:00 pm         MVC:  Southern Illinois @ Valparaiso     LIVE
  24. Wed, Jan 10     6:00 pm  MVC:  Northern Iowa @ Indiana State    LIVE   NBCSCH+
  25. Sat, Jan 13                3:00 pm         MVC:  Bradley @ Loyola         LIVE
  26. Sun, Jan 14              2:00 pm         MVC:  Indiana St @ Missouri St       LIVE                                       
  27. Mon, Jan 15             7:00 pm         UIC:  Oakland @ UIC    LIVE
  28. Tue, Jan 16               7:00 pm         MVC:  Drake @ Northern Iowa    LIVE
  29. Wed, Jan 17             6:00 pm         MVC:  Bradley @ Illinois State    LIVE
  30. Wed, Jan 17        7:00 pm    MVC:  Southern Illinois @ Loyola     LIVE   NBCSCH+
  31. Sat, Jan 20                3:00 pm           MVC:  Missouri St. @ Drake     LIVE
  32. Tue, Jan 23               7:00 pm           MVC:  Missouri St. @ Bradley   LIVE
  33. Sat, Jan 27                3:00 pm           UIC:  IUPUI @ UIC    LIVE
  34. Wed, Jan 31             7:00 pm            MVC:  Loyola @ Bradley       LIVE   NBCSCH+
  35. Sat, Feb 3           3:00 pm      MVC:  Indiana St @ Northern Iowa     LIVE   NBCSCH+
  36. Tue, Feb 6           6:00 pm      MVC:  Missouri St. @ Indiana St       LIVE   NBCSCH+
  37. Wed, Feb 7               7:00 pm            MVC:  Drake @ Loyola         LIVE
  38. Thu, Feb 8             7:00 pm        UIC:  Youngstown State @ UIC LIVE   NBCSCH+
  39. Sat, Feb 10                3:00 pm            MVC:  Northern Iowa @ Drake         LIVE
  40. Tue, Feb 13          7:00 pm      MVC:  Evansville @ Northern Iowa   LIVE   NBCSCH+
  41. Wed, Feb 14     7:00 pm     MVC:  Missouri St. @ Southern Illinois   LIVE   NBCSCH+
  42. Sat, Feb 17                8:00 pm            MVC:  Bradley @ Valparaiso         LIVE
  43. Wed, Feb 21     7:00 pm     MVC:  Bradley @ Missouri St.    LIVE   NBCSCH+               
  44. Sat, Feb 24           5:00 pm       St. Joseph’s @ Richmond          LIVE   NBCSCH+
  45. Sun, Feb 28               5:00 pm            UIC:  Wright State @ UIC          LIVE
  46. Thu, Mar 1                6:00 pm            MVC Tournament - Opening Round #1    LIVE
  47. Thu, Mar 1                8:30 pm            MVC Tournament - Opening Round #2     LIVE
  48. Fri, Mar 2                  12:00 pm         MVC Tournament – Quarterfinal #1        LIVE
  49. Fri, Mar 2                  2:30 pm            MVC Tournament – Quarterfinal #2          LIVE
  50. Fri, Mar 2                  6:00 pm            MVC Tournament – Quarterfinal #3         LIVE
  51. Fri, Mar 2                  8:30 pm            MVC Tournament – Quarterfinal #4      LIVE
     

2017-18 WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL on NBC SPORTS CHICAGO & NBC SPORTS CHICAGO+

1. Tue, Nov 14               7:00 pm            Iowa State @ Northern Iowa         LIVE
2. Sun, Nov 19            2:00 pm       Missouri @ Missouri State    LIVE  NBCSCH+
3. Wed, Nov 29             7:00 pm            Missouri St. @ Wichita St          TBA
4. Sat, Dec 16                2:00 pm            Northwestern @ Missouri St    LIVE         NBCSCH+
5. Sat, Dec 30                7:00 pm            St. Johns @ DePaul                    LIVE
6. Thu, Jan 4                   7:00 pm            DePaul @ Marquette              LIVE
7. Fri, Jan 12                   5:00 pm            Xavier @ DePaul                    LIVE         NBCSCH+
8. Fri, Jan 12                   7:00 PM           Missouri St @ Illinois State     LIVE         NBCSCH+
9. Mon, Jan 15           1:00 pm      UIC:  Milwaukee @ UIC     LIVE    NBCSCH+ 
10. Fri, Feb 2                  7:00 pm            Creighton @ DePaul                LIVE
11. Sun, Feb 4                2:00 pm            Providence @ DePaul            LIVE
12. Fri, Feb 16                7:00 pm            Georgetown @ DePaul       LIVE         NBCSCH+
13. Sun, Feb 18              3:00 pm            Missouri St @ Valparaiso    LIVE
14. Thu, Mar 1               7:00 pm            Evansville @ Missouri St     LIVE         NBCSCH+  

(Schedules as of 11/6/17)  -- ALL TIMES CENTRAL TIME
SCHEDULES SUBJECT TO CHANGE

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.