It is going to be a busy five-day span as Purdue plays its first three games of the season on a Friday-Sunday-Tuesday schedule. The first two are mostly tune-up games where we’re expected to win by a lot, while the Tuesday game at Marquette for hte Gavitt Games is the first real test of the season. We’ll have more on that later, but let’s take a look at Sunday’s opponent.
From: Chicago, Illinois
Game Location: Mackey Arena (14,240)
Time: 4:00pm ET
Radio: Boilermaker Sports Network
RPI: None yet
2016-17 Record: 6-26, 1-13 Western Athletic Conference
Record vs. Purdue: 0-2
Last Purdue win: 69-56 on 12/6/2005
Last Chicago State win: None
Blog Representation: None
NCAA Tournament History: None
Coach: Tracy Dildy (52-171 in 9th season)
Chicago State is often really, really, REALLY bad. They have had a vagabond existence at the Division I level. For the longest time the program was at the NAIA level and did well, even finishing third at the national tournament in 1984. They then decided to move up to the Division I level, and it has mostly been a disaster since. They have had only three winning seasons since moving up. In 1985 they were 16-11 and followed that with a 22-6 record in 1986. Since then, the lone winning season was in 2008-09 when they were 19-13.
Many of those seasons have had win totals in single digits, with several wins coming over non-Division I teams. They have also drifted around the conference landscape. They started as a Division I independent before eventually landing in the Mid-Continent Conference, which was the precursor to the Summit League. They were then independent again before landing in the Great West Conference, which was a complete farce of a league. It started as a football only FCS conference in 2004, but later formed into a loose association of new Division I members that lacked a conference. They became an all-sports conference in 2008-09, but the league was so tenuous (it had members from UC Davis in California to NJIT in New Jersey) that the NCAA wouldn’t even let them have an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Great West was the only conference that lacked an automatic bid (though its winner would get into the prestigious CollegeInsider.com Tournament!), and that meant it wouldn’t last long. As members jumped to various conferences around the country it dissolved in 2013. Chicago State found a home in the much weakened, football-less WAC, and here we are.
The Cougars now travel around the Midwest and collect paychecks for blowout losses. Last season there non-conference schedule had only two home games in 16 against “Illinois Tech” and “East-West University”. They went to Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Northwestern, and DePaul and lost all of them (though Northwestern only won 68-64). Two years ago they lost at Illinois 82-79, but most of the time they are on the wrong end of the score by quite a bit. This year they get paycheck games against Iowa, Purdue, Notre Dame, Marquette, Northwestern, and Wisconsin.
So, in a very long-winded way, Purdue should be favored by a lot here. Last season they had only two players who averaged in double figures: Fred Sims Jr. at 18.8 ppg and Trayvon Palmer at 15.1 ppg. Sims, a 6’4” guard, is back, but Palmer graduated. As a team they were 328th nationally out of 351 teams in scoring at 65.3 points per game. They were 309th defensively at 78.5 points per game.
This is one of the smallest teams we will face with Deionte Simmons, a 6’8” forward, as their tallest player. He averaged 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds a year ago. They do have an Indiana product as Anthony Harris, a 6’5” junior guard, plays high school ball at Griffith and took them to the state finals as a senior. He spent the last two years as South Suburban Junior College and joins the team this year as a promising JuCo transfer. Most of their players are Chicago area kids, as the school itself could be classified as a “commuter school”.
I won’t lie here: Purdue should have very little trouble both tomorrow night against SIU-Edwardsville and Sunday against Chicago State. These are tune-up games to tweak the rotation some, get some valuable minutes for Nojel Eastern, Eden Ewing, Matt Haarms, and Aaron Wheeler as newcomers (and Sasha Stefanovic if he doesn’t redshirt), and avoid injury. We’re probably going to hang 90+ and win by about 30-40 points. Purdue 96, Chicago State 60