Here are five college basketball thoughts to chew on for Monday.
1. Illinois' struggles at the United Center are head-scratching. It's not even that the Illini have lost five of their last six games there, but it's more how they've played overall in recent years. Last year's loss to UIC and this year's to UNLV were two of the worst offensive showings by an Illinois team during Bruce Weber's tenure. The offense looked out of sync throughout Saturday's game. I know playing in Chicago is a way of allowing the city's large alumni base be able to see the team locally and a great recruiting tool, but it may not be worth having the game there annually if it's going to result in one of Illinois' worst performances each season. Fans booed Illinois late in Saturday's loss. That can't be good for anyone.
2. It's hard to believe DePaul sophomore Brandon Young isn't one of the best 65 point guards in the country. Sixty-five players were named nominees for the Bob Cousy Award on Monday, and Young didn't make the cut. He should have. He has the ability and numbers to back that up. He's averaging 17.5 points, 4.6 assists and 1.7 steals.
3. Northwestern's next seven games could very well decide its season. The Wildcats face six ranked opponents in their next seven games. They have No. 21 Creighton, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 25 Illinois, No. 19 Michigan, No. 20 Michigan State and No. 14 Wisconsin. By Jan. 18, we should have a pretty good idea whether Northwestern is headed to its first NCAA tournament or not.
4. As a state, Illinois isn't shooting the ball too well right now. Northern Illinois ranks 344th in the country with a .343 shooting percentage. Southern Illinois is 343rd at .356. Chicago State is 318th at .388. UIC is 295th at .398. Loyola is 283rd at .404. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville is 253rd at .413. No one in the state ranks in the top 50 in shooting percentage. Eastern Illinois is the best at .464, which ranks 74th. DePaul is next at 80th with .462.
5. Within the state, Northwestern's John Shurna is averaging the most point (19.5); Western Illinois' Terell Parks leads in rebounding (10.1); Western Illinois' Ceola Clark leads in assists (5.2); Bradley's Dyricus Simms-Edwards leads in steals (2.1); and Illinois' Meyers Leonard leads in blocks (2.5).