Chicago Colleges: Southern Illinois Salukis

College basketball: State of the state

February, 11, 2014
Rayvonte RiceJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesRayvonte Rice is leading the Illini in scoring this season.
Illinois college basketball has seen some dark years in the last decade.

The state didn’t place a single team in the NCAA tournament in three of the last six seasons. Only the Illinois Fighting Illini kept the state from complete embarrassment with tournament appearances as a No. 5 seed in 2009, a No. 9 seed in 2011 and a No. 7 seed last season.

The last time a state team other than the Illini made the tournament was in 2007 when Southern Illinois was still riding high. That was also the last year the state had two tournament teams. The state landed three tournament teams in 2006 with Bradley joining Illinois and Southern Illinois.

But as bad as the state has been in recent years, it’s even worse this season. The state is not only likely headed to another season without an NCAA tournament berth, but most of its teams are struggling to stay above .500 in conference. Of the 13 teams in Illinois, only Chicago State and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville have winning records in conference.

Here’s a look at the present and future for all 13 teams in the state:

Illinois (14-10, 3-8 Big Ten), last NCAA tournament appearance: 2013

Illinois was expected to return to reality after a 12-2 start, which was inflated by a win over a suspect Missouri team, but no one could have predicted the Illini’s dramatic fall. They have won twice in 2014, and both those victories came against the conference’s worst team, Penn State. Between their two wins over the Nittany Lions, the Illini suffered eight consecutive losses. Illinois is likely headed to its third consecutive season under .500 in the Big Ten and its second under coach John Groce. Lack of scoring has been Illinois’ biggest problem as of late as the Illini averaged 55.1 points during an eight-game losing streak. With even the NIT unlikely at this point, it’s best to look to next season when transfers Ahmad Starks, Aaron Cosby and Darius Paul will be eligible and the arrival of Leron Black, Groce’s first top-50 recruit. The Illini will also return leading scorer Rayvonte Rice, Tracy Abrams, Nnanna Egwu and improving freshmen Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn. Expectations should be high next season.

(Read full post)

Ten predictions for state basketball teams

November, 9, 2012
Brandon Paul and Drew CrawfordAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhIllinois' Brandon Paul and Northwestern's Drew Crawford should be in the running for the Big Ten scoring title this season.

The college basketball season tips off on Friday, and here are my 10 predictions for the hoops year in Illinois:

1. This is finally the year for Northwestern to reach the NCAA tournament: The Wildcats don’t exactly have the star power of John Shurna, but they’re deeper than they have ever been. Depth has been one of the main reasons Northwestern has fallen just short of the tournament in the last few years. Senior swingman Drew Crawford will take over Shurna’s role and was among the Big Ten’s top scorers last season. Even without shooting guard JerShon Cobb, who is ineligible this season, Northwestern has a deep backcourt in sophomore point guard Dave Sobolewski, redshirt freshman point guard Tre Demps, senior shooting guard Alex Marcotullio and senior shooting guard Reggie Hearn. Louisville transfer Jared Swopshire, a 6-8 forward, gives Northwestern size and skill in the frontcourt. TCU transfer Nikola Cerina, a 6-9 forward, will help on the boards, another weakness in recent years. Plus, 7-foot, 275-pound center Alex Olah could be a legitimate difference-maker this season. Northwestern coach Bill Carmody could also turn to a few others off the bench.

(Read full post)

Nonconference schedule analysis: MVC

October, 11, 2012
This week, is breaking down the nonconference schedules of each and every team in a dozen of the nation's top leagues. On Monday, we began in the South with the ACC, SEC and C-USA. On Tuesday, we focused on the East with the A-10, Big East and CAA. Wednesday was all about the West with the Mountain West, Pac-12 and WCC. Today we focus on the Midwest with the Big Ten, Big 12, Missouri Valley and the best of the rest.


Toughest: at South Florida (Nov. 20), Michigan (Dec. 1), Las Vegas Classic (Dec. 22-23)
Next-toughest: George Washington (Dec. 4)
The rest: Eastern Illinois (Nov. 9), Texas-Pan American (Nov. 12), at IUPUI (Nov. 17), Tennessee-Martin (Nov. 24), at Central Michigan (Nov. 28)
Toughness scale (1-10): 5 -- Considering it went 7-25 last season, Bradley certainly could’ve scheduled easier. South Florida will contend for a second-straight NCAA tournament berth and Michigan is a preseason top-10 team. The Braves will face Virginia Tech and either Colorado State or Portland in Vegas. George Washington won only 10 games a year ago but returns four starters.


Toughest: Las Vegas Invitational (Nov. 23-24), at Cal (Dec. 15), BracketBusters (TBA)
Next-toughest: North Texas (Nov. 9), Saint Joseph’s (Dec. 1), Akron (Dec. 9)
The rest: Presbyterian (Nov. 18), Longwood (Nov. 20), Boise State (Nov. 28), at Nebraska (Dec. 6), Tulsa (Dec. 19)
Toughness scale (1-10): 6 -- Although it’s not as soft as last year’s, the Bluejays’ nonconference schedule is a bit underwhelming for a top-15-caliber team. They’ll be challenged by Wisconsin and either Arkansas or Arizona State in Las Vegas, and a trip to Cal won’t be easy. North Texas, Saint Joseph’s and Akron all will pose threats in Omaha and will help the RPI. But Creighton’s best nonconference game may be its BracketBusters showdown with a to-be-determined opponent in late February.


Toughest: DIRECTV Classic (Nov. 22-25), at Nevada (Nov. 30), Saint Mary’s (Dec. 5), vs. Iowa State (Dec. 15 in Des Moines)
Next-toughest: at Detroit (Nov. 17), BracketBusters (TBA)
The rest: William Jewell (Nov. 10), IPFW (Dec. 8), North Carolina Central (Dec. 19), Eastern Illinois (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale (1-10): 8 -- Kudos to coach Mark Phelps for building one of the conference’s most challenging nonconference schedules. The Bulldogs travel to Horizon League favorite Detroit and will then face Cal and then either Georgia Tech or Rice in Anaheim. Nevada and Saint Mary’s are stiff tests from out West. The schedule could play huge dividends for Drake in MVC play.


Toughest: at Notre Dame (Dec. 10), at Colorado State (Dec. 1), Murray State (Dec. 8), at Butler (Dec. 22)
Next-toughest: Coaches vs. Cancer Classic (Nov. 15-17), at Tennessee Tech (Nov. 20)
The rest: Alabama A&M (Nov. 26), Miami-Ohio (Dec. 5), Alabama State (Dec. 15), Oakland City (Dec. 18)
Toughness scale (1-10): 9 -- After opening on the road at Notre Dame -- an upper-echelon Big East team -- the Purple Aces play three straight home games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. But that doesn’t mean the wins will come easy. Buffalo, Yale and Western Illinois all return three starters from winning teams. Colorado State, Butler and Murray State will all contend for NCAA tournament bids. This schedule gives an improving Evansville program a chance to take that “next step.”


Toughest: at Drexel (Nov. 15), at Louisville (Dec. 1), at Dayton (Dec. 19)
Next-toughest: UC Santa Barbara (Nov. 12), South Padre Island Invitational (Nov. 23-24), Wyoming (Dec. 4)
The rest: Delaware State (Nov. 18), Fairleigh Dickinson (Nov. 20), Western Michigan (Dec. 8), Morgan State (Dec. 16), Austin Peay (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale (1-10): 6 -- For a fringe top-25 team hoping to earn its first NCAA berth since 1998, this is a relatively weak nonconference schedule. Louisville is an NCAA title contender, Drexel returns four starters from a 29-7 team and Dayton is a tough place to play. Otherwise, there are no marquee matchups on the slate. The South Padre Island Field is weak with UAB, TCU and Northwestern.


Toughest: at UCLA (Nov. 9), New Mexico (Dec. 1), Diamond Head Classic (Dec. 22-25 in Honolulu)
Next-toughest: at Ball State (Nov. 2), BracketBusters (TBA)
The rest: Winthrop (Nov. 13), Truman State (Nov. 17), High Point (Nov. 25), at Morehead State (Dec. 8), IUPUI (Dec. 15)
Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- This slate provides plenty of challenges for a program that lost four starters from an 18-15 team. Opening on the road against UCLA looks to be an insurmountable feat, but the experience will pay off in the long run. The Sycamores will also faced a much-improved Ole Miss squad in the Diamond Head Classic, which also features San Diego State, Arizona and Miami.


Toughest: San Diego State (Nov. 17), at Oklahoma State (Dec. 8)
Next-toughest: Hoops for Hope Challenge (Nov. 24-25 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico), Oral Roberts (Dec. 1), Valparaiso (Dec. 15), at New Mexico State (Dec. 22)
The rest: Philander Smith (Nov. 9), Jacksonville (Nov. 19), Alcorn State (Nov. 21), at Tulsa (Dec. 5), at Alabama A&M (Dec. 18)
Toughness scale (1-10): 8 -- The Bears will have plenty of chances to impress the NCAA tournament selection committee with this slate. The problem is that Missouri State will be loaded with new faces, making victories against postseason contenders such as San Diego State and Oklahoma State seem unlikely. A championship in the Hoops for Hope Challenge (where the Bears open against rebuilding South Carolina) would provide a nice confidence boost.


Toughest: Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 22-24), at UNLV (Dec. 19), Saint Mary’s (Dec. 22)
Next-toughest: at George Mason (Dec. 8), vs. Iowa (Dec. 15 in Des Moines)
The rest: Wartburg (Nov. 10), Toledo (Nov. 14), North Dakota (Nov. 17), Milwaukee (Dec. 1), Northern Colorado (Dec. 5)
Toughness scale (1-10): 9 -- The Panthers open play against Final Four favorite Louisville in the Battle 4 Atlantis, one of the most loaded tournaments in recent memory. Duke, Memphis, Missouri and Stanford are also in the field. UNLV will almost certainly be ranked in the preseason top 25, and Saint Mary’s -- last year’s WCC champion -- features one of the nation’s top point guards in Matthew Dellavedova. Iowa and George Mason will both contend for NCAA bids. What a schedule.


Toughest: at Saint Louis (Nov. 24), at Western Kentucky (Dec. 5), World Vision Classic (Dec. 20-22 in Logan, Utah)
Next-toughest: Fresno State (Nov. 28), at Green Bay (Dec. 14), BracketBusters
The rest: at New Orleans (Nov. 12), Benedictine-Springfield (Nov. 17), at SIU (Nov. 20)
Toughness scale (1-10): 6 -- Other than Saint Louis, Barry Hinson won’t play many top-25 caliber teams in his first season at Southern Illinois. But the Salukis won’t face many patsies, either. One of the most difficult tests probably will come three days before Christmas, when Hinson’s squad squares off against host Utah State in the World Vision Classic.


Toughest: at VCU (Nov. 13), at Tennessee (Dec. 13)
Next-toughest: Cancun Challenge (Nov. 20-21), vs. Southern Miss (at INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita), BracketBusters
The rest: NC Central (Nov. 10), Western Carolina (Nov. 15), Howard (Nov. 17), Tulsa (Nov. 28), at Air Force (Dec. 2), Northern Colorado (Dec. 8), Charleston Southern (Dec. 20)
Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- Victories at VCU or Tennessee could go a long way toward enhancing the Shockers’ NCAA tournament résumé, but there isn’t too much to get excited about on the rest of the slate. It’s a shame Wichita State couldn’t schedule at least one marquee opponent to play at home. To be fair, teams from major conferences probably aren’t too eager to face Gregg Marshall’s squad on the road. Koch Arena is an incredibly difficult place to play, especially when the Shockers are on a roll, which they have been in recent years.

SIU suspends Diamond Taylor indefinitely

September, 24, 2012
Southern Illinois junior guard Diamond Taylor has been suspended indefinitely after he was charged Saturday with driving under the influence, the school announced on Monday.

Taylor, a 6-4 shooting guard, was arrested early Saturday morning. He started nine games last season and averaged 4.3 points.

"I'm extremely disappointed in Diamond,” Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson said in a statement. “We're in the business of educating student-athletes and teaching them how to conduct themselves on and off court, and this is a significant setback.

“The question now is how do we react? I met with Diamond this morning and issued a challenge to him to become a first-class student and resident of Carbondale. How he responds will determine his status going forward.”

Saturday’s DUI arrest was the latest of Taylor’s off-the-court troubles.

Hinson also announced in early August that Taylor would face internal disciplinary measures due to pending charges for theft of a bicycle.

In September of 2011, Taylor was suspended from the team due to a violation of team rules. He was arrested for possession of marijuana in April of 2011, according to Jackson County court records.

Taylor was also kicked off Wisconsin's basketball team after being arrested for burglary in September of 2009. He later transferred to Southern Illinois.

Taylor was among the Chicago’s top area players coming out of high school and played at St. Joseph in Westchester, Ill.
CreightonAP Photo/Chuck BurtonCreighton returns almost every contributor from a 27-win team that won the Valley tourney title.

Are Doug McDermott and Creighton the overwhelming favorite or can stacked Illinois State or reloaded Wichita State challenge? Let’s catch up on news and notes from the Mountain West halfway through the offseason.

Click here to read the entire story.

Beane father, son leave ISU for SIU

May, 19, 2012
Former Illinois State assistant Anthony Beane has joined the Southern Illinois coaching staff, and his son Anthony Beane Jr., a high school senior guard, has received his release from his letter of intent from Illinois State and has committed to Southern Illinois.

Beane was an Illinois State assistant from 2000-02 and 2007-2012. He recently departed the staff after head coach Tim Jankovich left Illinois State for SMU and Dan Muller was hired as Jankovich’s replacement.

Beane is the third assistant named to Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson’s staff.

“When they made the selection of Dan Muller, I know Dan, and he’s a really good guy,” Beane said. “I had a previous relationship with him. It made it interesting. The main reason to go ahead to Southern Illinois was I knew coach Hinson, and he’s a very, very experienced coach. It was also closer to an area where we’re familiar with. I also felt my family needed a fresh start at this time.

“It was definitely difficult to leave because I’m very close to the players. I know I’m leaving good people. You have to dispose of personal feeling and do what’s best.”

Beane Jr., a 6-2 guard at Normal Community High School, was recently given his release from Illinois State and followed his father to Southern Illinois. He averaged 16 points, five rebounds and two assists during his senior year. He will be on scholarship at Southern Illinois.

“Certainly as his father, having a chance to coach your son is truly a blessing,” Beane said. “I certainly think he’s stepping into a better situation than at Illinois State. I think he’ll have a chance right from the being to compete and play right away.”

Four players seek releases from SIU

April, 18, 2012
Southern Illinois freshmen Dantiel Daniels and Treg Setty and recruits Bobo Drummond and Travis Wilkins have all requested their releases, but none of them have granted yet, according to a school spokesperson on Wednesday.

Daniels, a 6-foot-6 forward, started 25 games and averaged 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks during his freshman season.

Setty, a 6-9 forward, started 10 games and averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds during his freshman season.

Drummond, a 5-10 high school senior, was considered the Salukis’ point guard of the future. He played for La Lumiere Academy in Indiana and for the Illinois Wolves’ club program. He signed with Southern Illinois in November.

Wilkins, a 6-3 guard, also signed in November and played this past season at Snow Junior College in Utah. He spent this first two years after graduating from high school on a Mormon mission.

All four players were recruited by former Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery. Lowery was fired in March after eight seasons. Barry Hinson was named his replacement last month.

Source: Weber offered SIU job

March, 20, 2012

Southern Illinois wants Bruce Weber back in Carbondale, Ill., and has offered the former Illinois coach its head coaching job, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Read the entire story.

Potential candidates for SIU job

March, 2, 2012
[+] EnlargeBruce Weber
Bradley Leeb/US PresswireWould Bruce Weber be a fit with his former school, Southern Illinois, if he is fired by Illinois?
Southern Illinois is the most attractive job in the state of Illinois outside of DePaul, Illinois and Northwestern.
It’s a program which has had success for much of the past 20 years. The Salukis have been to the NCAA tournament nine times since 1993 under four different coaches.

The success began with Rich Herrin, who went to the NCAA tournament from 1993-1995. Bruce Weber followed Herrin with two tournament appearances in five years at Southern Illinois. Matt Painter reached the tournament in his one year there. Finally, Chris Lowery went to three NCAA tournaments, including a Sweet 16 run in 2007, before the program took a dive as of late.

Because Southern Illinois still owes Lowery $750,000 for the next two years, the Salukis may not be throwing as large of a figure at their next coach, but there should still be plenty of interest in the position.

Here’s a look at potential candidates in alphabetical order:

(Read full post)

Southern Illinois fires Lowery

March, 2, 2012
Southern Illinois University has fired men's basketball coach Chris Lowery after back-to-back losing seasons.

Read the entire story.

Five thoughts: Predictable stumbles

January, 20, 2012
Here are five college basketball thoughts heading into the weekend.

1. Poised for a crash: There probably weren’t two teams in the country more likely to come crashing down this week than Illinois and Northwestern. The Wildcats were sailing high after their win over Michigan State, and they had little chance against Wisconsin on Wednesday, especially without Alex Marcotullio and JerShon Cobb due to injuries. Illinois was coming off its big win against Ohio State, and coach Bruce Weber was rightfully worried about a letdown against Penn State. Moving forward, Illinois has to be concerned about its point guard play. Sam Maniscalco likely isn’t going to be 100 percent the rest of the season and will probably have spurts where he needs extended rest. While freshman Tracy Abrams has improved since the start of the season, he still can’t be relied upon for an entire game. As for Northwestern, its rash of injuries could determine the team’s fate. The Wildcats weren’t deep to begin with and are even less so if Marcotullio and Cobb are hurt and senior center Luka Mirkovic in Bill Carmody’s doghouse.

2. On second thought: DePaul’s win over Pittsburgh doesn’t seem so positive now. For one, Pittsburgh has lost to everyone it’s faced through six Big East games. Secondly, DePaul wasn’t able to create any momentum from its win over Pittsburgh. The Blue Demons have dropped their last four games. Their defense was spotty during all of those losses, allowing an average of 85 points per game. Their next three games are at home against South Florida and St. John’s and on the road at Rutgers. If the Blue Demons are going to improve on their recent Big East records, they’ll need to win a few games during this upcoming stretch.

[+] EnlargeChris Lowery
Jeff Curry/US PresswireChris Lowery's Salukis are 6-13 and 3-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
3. Playing for his job?: Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery was only likely to save his job after this season by competing for the Missouri Valley title. So far, Lowery’s job security doesn’t look good. After jumping out to a 2-1 conference start, including a surprising win over Illinois State, Southern Illinois has lost four of its last four games and fallen to 3-5 in the Valley. Lowery has also stopped turning to senior guard Justin Bocot, who hasn’t played more than 13 minutes the last four games.

4. Freshman spotlight: Northwestern freshman point guard David Sobolewski has been impressive, but another freshman who has been opening eyes in the state has been Western Illinois’ Obi Emegano. He’s scored in double figures in seven of his past eight games, including 17 points on 5-of-5 shooting in a one-point loss to Oral Roberts. He’s averaging 13.5 points this season.

5. Winless no more: The result probably went unnoticed by most -- there were only 237 people in attendance -- but Chicago State won its first game of the season on Sunday. While it was only a win over NAIA opponent St. Francis, it does count as a win, and the Cougars are no longer among the nation’s winless teams.

SIU's Jewel Hampton to enter NFL draft

January, 17, 2012
Southern Illinois junior running back Jewel Hampton has decided to enter the NFL draft and forgo his senior season, the school announced on Tuesday.

Hampton rushed for 1,121 yards and 17 touchdowns in one season at Southern Illinois. He spent his first three years, including a redshirt season, at Iowa.

“I felt great about the people and the season we had in Carbondale, and the program is going in the right direction,” Hampton said in a statement. “I put my name in for evaluation and they said I had a good chance of getting drafted between rounds four and seven, so I had to follow my heart. It's hard to leave a place like Carbondale, where I have so many footholds now, but I need to follow my dream."

Hampton was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Newcomer of the Year and a second-team all-conference selection.

“We fully support Jewel's decision and wish him the very best in his pro career," Southern Illinois coach Dale Lennon said in a statement. “He clearly has both the talent and the work ethic to succeed at the next level. Jewel is a fine young man and I look forward to watching him on Sundays.”

Former Southern Illinois running backs in the NFL include Brandon Jacobs and Deji Karim.

Week 12 college football preview

November, 18, 2011

Minnesota (2-8) at Northwestern (5-5)

When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WGN-720 AM
NorthwesternMinnesotaWhat you need to know: Northwestern can earn bowl eligibility with a win over Minnesota on Saturday. The Wildcats have returned to .500 after having a 2-5 record. Northwestern’s offense has been consistent throughout its three-game winning streak, and the defense has continued to improve. Minnesota isn’t a team to overlook, though. The Gophers did defeat Iowa and lost to Michigan State by only seven points.
Scott Powers’ prediction: Northwestern 42, Minnesota 20

No. 17 Wisconsin (8-2) at Illinois (6-4)

When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.
Radio: WIND-560 AM
IllinoisWisconsinWhat you need to know: Illinois’ season has been a tale of two halves. The Illini went 6-0 during the first part. In the second half, they’ve spun the wrong way and gone 0-4. They’ll be the underdogs again this weekend against Wisconsin. Illinois coach Ron Zook is feeling the pressure and even walked out of a press conference this week after being asked about his job. This week could be Zook’s last chance to save himself. A win over Wisconsin would be notable. Illinois’ offense will have to come to play for that to happen. The Illini haven’t scored more than 14 points in their last four games.
Powers’ prediction: Wisconsin 31, Illinois 17

Boston College (3-7) at Notre Dame (7-3)

When, where: 3 p.m. Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind.
Radio: WLS-890 AM
Notre DameBoston CollegeWhat you need to know: Notre Dame has bounced back nicely after its loss to USC last month. The Irish have won their last three games and are back in the AP poll. They should be able to roll again this week against Boston College. The Eagles have struggled to score points for most of the season. They haven’t put up more than 19 points since September. They did pull out a 14-10 win over NC State last week.
Scott Powers’ prediction: Notre Dame 41, Boston College 17

Northern Iowa (8-2) at Illinois State (7-3)

When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Hancock Stadium in Normal, Ill.
TV: None
Radio: None
Illinois StateNorthern IowaWhat you need to know: This could be one of the better FCS games this week. Northern Iowa is ranked No. 4 in the FCS rankings, Illinois State is at No. 14. Illinois State is also riding a five-game winning streak and had last week off to prepare for Northern Iowa. After a rough start to the season, Illinois State’s defense has come through for the Redbirds. Northern Iowa’s losses have been to Iowa State and North Dakota State.
Powers’ prediction: Illinois State 27, Northern Iowa 24

Southern Illinois (3-7) at Indiana State (6-4)

When, where: 1 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Terre Haute, Ind.
TV: None
Radio: None
Indiana StateSouthern IllinoisWhat you need to know: Southern Illinois is coming off one of its better games of the season with its 45-28 win over Eastern Illinois. The Salukis’ offense has especially clicked the last three weeks. Outside of a season-opening loss to Penn State, Indiana State has been competitive with everyone on its schedule. The Sycamores offense has, at times, struggled this season.
Powers’ prediction: Indiana State 37, Southern Illinois 31

North Dakota State (9-1) at Western Illinois (2-8)

When, where: 1 p.m. Saturday at Hanson Stadium in Macomb, Ill.
TV: None
Radio: None
Western IllinoisNorth Dakota StateWhat you need to know: Western Illinois closes out its season against one of the top FCS schools in North Dakota State. Western Illinois dropped its fifth consecutive game last week when its offense struggled again in a loss to South Dakota State. The Leathernecks haven’t scored more than 17 points in their last four games. North Dakota State did endure its first loss last week when Youngstown State pulled off an upset.
Powers’ prediction: North Dakota State 31, Western Illinois 17

Week 11 college football preview

November, 11, 2011

Rice (3-6) at Northwestern (4-5)

When, where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WGN-720 AM
RiceNorthwesternWhat you need to know: Northwestern never lost confidence throughout its five-game losing streak. The Wildcats believed they weren’t that far from turning it around, and it appears they were right. They’ve won their past two games, including last week’s 28-25 upset at Nebraska. Their defense especially came through against the Cornhuskers. It was the first time it had allowed less than 30 points since Sept. 17. Rice shouldn’t present a huge challenge for Northwestern. Rice’s defense has had its struggles this season, giving up 73 points to Houston two weeks ago.
Powers’ prediction: Northwestern 45, Rice 24

No. 24 Michigan (7-2) at Illinois (6-3)

When, where: 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.
Radio: WIND-560 AM
MichiganIllinoisWhat you need to know: Illinois hasn’t been losing by much, but it has been losing, and that’s what’s important right now. Just as Illinois coach Ron Zook stated, a win was a win after a narrow victory over Western Michigan, a loss is still a loss. The Illini have dropped their past three games and are on the verge of seeing their season slip by. After starting 6-0, they’re now 6-3 and still have games against Michigan and Wisconsin. Last year’s Michigan game was a shootout with the Wolverines pulling out a 67-65 victory in triple overtime. Illinois’ defense should be better than that. The question is whether its offense can get going. The Illini haven’t scored more than 14 points in their last three games. They are coming off a bye last week.
Powers’ prediction: Michigan 24, Illinois 21

Notre Dame (6-3) at Maryland (2-7)

When, where: 6:30 p.m. Saturday at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
Radio: WLS-890 AM
Notre DameMarylandWhat you need to know: Notre Dame is amidst the easier portion of its schedule with Navy, Wake Forest and Maryland in consecutive games. Last week’s win over Wake Forest wasn’t as cushy as the Irish would have liked. Notre Dame needed to score 14 points in the third quarter and shut out Wake Forest in the second half to pull out a 24-17 win. Quarterback Tommy Rees is still searching for consistency. He threw two interceptions last week. Maryland enters this game on a five-game losing streak, but it has had some close contests. Its offense hasn’t put up more than 17 points in the last three weeks.
Scott Powers’ prediction: Notre Dame 34, Maryland 17

Ball State (6-4) at Northern Illinois (7-3)

When, where: 7 p.m. Tuesday at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, Ill.
Radio: WSCR-670 AM
Ball StateNorthern IllinoisWhat you need to know: Northern Illinois, which has won five straight, is in first place in the MAC West, but it still likely needs to win out to remain atop the league. Their offense was its usual stellar self in Tuesday’s win over Bowling Green. What was different in the win was the defense also came to play. After allowing a touchdown on the opening play, Northern Illinois only gave up one more score the entire game. Ball State, one game behind the Huskies, has given up its share of points this year. In its four losses, it allowed 37 points or more.
Powers’ prediction: Northern Illinois 45, Ball State 27

Eastern Illinois (2-8) at Southern Illinois (2-7)

When, where: 2 p.m. Saturday at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.
TV: None
Radio: None
Eastern IllinoisSouthern IllinoisWhat you need to know: Neither team’s season has gone as it hoped. Eastern Illinois looked like it had some potential at the beginning of the season, but have fallen on the wrong side of close games. The Panthers have lost four games by seven points or less, and two of those were by one point. Southern Illinois was 2-1 early in the year, but has lost its last six games. The Salukis’ offense struggled at first, but their defense has been the cause of defeat the last few weeks. They lost to South Dakota State 45-34 last week. This will be the final game for Eastern Illinois coach Bob Spoo, who is retiring.
Powers’ prediction: Eastern Illinois 38, Southern Illinois 31

South Dakota State (4-6) at Western Illinois (2-7)

When, where: 1 p.m. Saturday at Hanson Stadium in Macomb, Ill.
TV: None
Radio: None
South Dakota StateWestern IllinoisWhat you need to know: Western Illinois has dropped its past four games. The Leathernecks’ offense has struggled the last three weeks, failing to score more than 17 points in any of those games. South Dakota State’s problem this season has been stopping opponents from scoring. The Jackrabbits have given up 30-plus points in seven games. Something will have to give in this one.
Powers’ prediction: South Dakota State 34, Western Illinois 24

Week 10 college football preview

November, 4, 2011

Northwestern (3-5) at No. 10 Nebraska (7-1)

When, where: 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: WGN-720 AM
NorthwesternNebraskaWhat you need to know: Northwestern found the win column again last week with a 59-38 win over Indiana after losing its previous five games. The Wildcats’ offense was clicking in every way, but the defense continued to have its troubles. Northwestern should benefit from the return of defensive lineman Tyler Scott and linebacker Bryce McNaul this week, but Nebraska is a different animal, too. The Cornhuskers are among the nation’s top 10 teams in rushing offense and are averaging 35.9 points per game. Northwestern will be the heavy underdog with Nebraska favored by as many as 18 points.
Powers’ prediction: Nebraska 41, Northwestern 27

Notre Dame (5-3) at Wake Forest (5-3)

When, where: 7 p.m. Saturday at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Radio: WLS-890 AM
NorthwesternWake ForestWhat you need to know: Notre Dame took care of Navy without any problems last week after falling to USC the week before. The Irish’s running game was especially dominant in the victory. Wake Forest has been up and down all season. The Demon Deacons are coming off a loss to North Carolina. They allowed 562 yards last week. Notre Dame’s offense could have a similar day.
Powers’ prediction: Notre Dame 41, Wake Forest 24

Northern Illinois (6-3) at Bowling Green (4-5)

When, where: 7 p.m. Tuesday at Doyt L. Perry Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio
Radio: WSCR-670 AM
Northern IllinoisBowling GreenWhat you need to know: Northern Illinois took the driver’s seat in the MAC West after its dramatic 63-60 win over Toledo on Tuesday. The Huskies rank sixth in the country in total offense and have been averaging 41.2 points. Chandler Harnish is among the nation’s top quarterbacks in passing and rushing. Bowling Green’s defense has been consistently solid for much of the season, but did allow 45 points to Western Michigan earlier in the year.
Powers’ prediction: Northern Illinois 41, Bowling Green 28

Tennessee State (3-5) at Eastern Illinois (2-7)

When, where: 1:30 p.m. Saturday at O’Brien Field in Charleston, Ill.
TV: None
Radio: None
Tennessee StateEastern IllinoisWhat you need to know: Eastern Illinois snapped its seven-game losing streak with a 19-10 win over Austin Peay last week. Jake Walker rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown in the win. The Panthers will be looking to send coach Bob Spoo out with a victory in his final home game. Spoo will be honored for his 25 years at Eastern Illinois after the game.
Powers’ prediction: Eastern Illinois 34, Tennessee State 31

Western Illinois (2-6) at Illinois State (6-3)

When, where: 1 p.m. Saturday at Hancock Stadium in Normal, Ill.
TV: None
Radio: None
Western IllinoisIllinois StateWhat you need to know: Illinois State will attempt to knock off its second in-state opponent in as many weeks. The Redbirds topped Southern Illinois 38-30 last Saturday and have been on a roll with four consecutive wins. Illinois State’s running game has been slowed down the past few weeks and will be looking for a boost against Western Illinois. The Leathernecks are on a three-games losing streak. They allowed nearly 500 yards of offense in last week’s 56-14 loss to Youngstown State.
Powers’ prediction: Illinois State 38, Western Illinois 20

Southern Illinois (2-6) at South Dakota State (3-6)

When, where: 2 p.m. Saturday at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in Brookings, S.D.
TV: None
Radio: None
Southern IllinoisSouth Dakota StateWhat you need to know: There hasn’t been much between Southern Illinois winning and losing the last five weeks. If a play here or there goes the Salukis’ way, they would have likely won all five games. That didn’t happen, though. Southern Illinois is riding a five-game losing streak after last week’s loss to Illinois State. South Dakota State has endured its own struggles this season. South Dakota State leads the conference in passing offense, and Southern Illinois leads it in passing defense.
Powers’ prediction: South Dakota State 34, Southern Illinois 24