Green Bay at Chicago State, 8:00 PM Eastern (no TV)
As we wind to the very last handful of non-conference games this season, the SCGD will be traveling tonight to the Windy City for the matchup between the Horizon League’s Green Bay Phoenix and the WAC’s Chicago State Cougars. Already 2-0 in Horizon League play, Green Bay gets their final non-league game tonight. Overall, the Phoenix sit at 11-3 with an RPI of 53, BPI of 78, KenPom of 73 and SOS of 61, all very solid numbers for a team not in a major conference. Unfortunately, just to maintain those ratings they will have to keep winning. The only remaining top 100 KenPom opponent for Green Bay is a road trip in late February to Cleveland State (who may no longer even be top 100 at that point). The Phoenix did score one win of note in non-conference play, a home victory over the Virginia Cavaliers. They also did stub their toes at Eastern Michigan (though Eastern Michigan is a solid yet underrated team). An at-large bid would be a longshot for the Phoenix, and would probably require them to win out all the way to their conference tournament final..or close to that. A loss tonight at Chicago State would be devastating.
Chicago State enters tonight’s game at 6-8 overall and 1-0 so far in WAC play. Their one WAC victory, at RPI 279 Idaho, is also their best win of the year. The Cougars are in their first year playing in the WAC but are no strangers to being in a “western” conference. They have spent the past several years as members of the now-defunct (but always remembered in the hearts of SCGD fans everywhere) Great West Conference. In fact, they have the distinction of being the last team to win a Great West game, when they defeated Houston Baptist to win the Great West tournament championship last season before losing to Illinois-Chicago in the first round of the CIT. They also were and possibly forever will be the only team to play in the CIT with a losing record, as that tournament will only select teams that are .500 or better overall, other than an automatic bid that it gave to the Great West tournament champion the past few years. A win by the Cougars tonight when they host Green Bay would be a major upset — but one should never count out what may be the best team in Chicago (ok, DePaul did beat them this season–but it took overtime to do so!)