Chicago State will try to snap an eight-game losing streak Saturday when it hosts Western Illinois. This is the first meeting between the programs since the 2006-07 season, when the Cougars knocked off the Leathernecks, 82-72.
What you should know about Western Illinois (7-2, No. 173 KenPom):
Western Illinois could be good enough to compete for the Summit League title this season, but its record far outweighs its accomplishments so far this season. The Leathernecks have a huge, program-defining win at Wisconsin. But that win does not carry the weight it would in any other season, as the Badgers are only 7-5.
Three of Western Illinois’ wins have come against non-Division I teams. The Leathernecks had opportunities to prove the Wisconsin win was not a fluke with games against Creighton and Iowa, but they lost both by 30 or more points.
In terms of Saturday’s matchup against Chicago State, Western Illinois’ biggest weapon is its lights-out 3-point shooting. The Leathernecks convert triples at a 42.6 percent rate, good for No. 11 in the nation. Meanwhile, Chicago State has been among of the 50 worst teams defending the 3-point line, allowing opponents to make 38.5 percent of their long balls.
Senior guard JC Fuller (50 percent) and junior guard Garret Covington (46.7 percent) are Western Illinois’ two biggest threats from beyond the arc. Junior guard Jabari Sandifer (4-of-13) is also capable of knocking down a trey every now and then.
What you should know about Chicago State (3-9, No. 342 KenPom):
Chicago State has lost eight straight games and still has not defeated a Division I opponent. A home game against Western Illinois was supposed to be a good chance for a win, but the Leathernecks are better than expected, leaving the Cougars as heavy underdogs Saturday.
One piece of good news for Chicago State is that Western Illinois’ defensive design forces very few turnovers, which has been an area of weakness for the Cougars. They turn the ball over in 22.1 percent of their possessions.
And although Western Illinois shoots it well from deep, it also struggles defending the perimeter. Leathernecks opponents are shooting 36.2 percent on threes this season.
Chicago State’s best 3-point shooters are junior guard Elliot Cole and senior forward Jawad Adekoya. When freshman guard Anthony Eaves gets in the game, he is also a solid jump shooter. Those three will need to find and make open shots if the Cougars are going to pull an upset at home.
How to watch, listen, stream and bet:
Start time: 4:35 p.m. CT
App/Online: WAC Digital Network
Radio: WVON 1690AM
Sagarin: Western Illinois -10
KenPom: Western Illinois 72, Chicago State 64 (78%)