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The question random strangers continually emailed/tweeted/facebooked me this week — what happens if the Catholic Cabal passes over the U. of D? Certainly this is a concern, and the lack of transparency among the former Big East schools has done nothing to quell those anxious thoughts, but it won’t result in a death knell for the Flyer basketball program.

Yes, it will be a swift kick to the teeth to be excluded (especially considering that the Overlords are absolutely part of any expansion plan), but by no means will it be the end of the world.

The Flyer fanbase seems to have broken off into two camps: a collection of highly-enthused individuals who believe UD will absolutely, positively be a part of the C7’s immediate plans, and those who conclude that not only will the Flyers be held out of the new conference, but that Dayton is somehow better off not being a part of it. I’m not sure which side is right.

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Lastly, a little off-topic but indulge me, let’s please all pray for Christopher Chaney who was just sentenced to 10 years for leaking hacked photos of Scarlett Johansson. He was doing the Lord’s work and ended up getting more time than a date rapist. That ain’t justice, that ain’t even Iraqi justice. This guy brought more joy to the world than the rest of us combined and he’s going to have his rectum ripped apart for a decade? That just doesn’t add up.

Overview: Illinois State are coached by first-year coach, Dan Muller. Picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley behind Creighton, the Redbirds come into UD Arena with a 7-3 record. All three defeats coming at the hands of decent competition — Wyoming, Northwestern (in overtime) and Louisville. The Redbirds are coming off a 21-14 season, resulting in a NIT appearance, and return four starters from last year’s squad.

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Illinois State likes to get out and run, scoring 81.5 points per game, outpacing their opponents by 13.5 per contest. ISU gets twelve points a game off of fast-breaks, almost half of their points coming from the paint. The Redbirds are connecting on a little over fifty-percent of their shots, second best in the Missouri Valley.

Seventy is the magic number for ISU. When the Birds score over 70 they are a perfect 7-0. They’ve yet to win a game in which they’ve scored less than seventy. Although not a deep team, the Redbirds get a third of their scoring output from their bench.

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Meet and Greet

Jackie Carmichael (17.6 PPG, 7.3 rpg), the type of name that usually results in an automatic credit denial, is Illinois State’s leading scorer and rebounder. The 6’9″ senior is a matchup issue for a team like the Flyers, an athletic power forward who affects the game offensively and defensively. Carmichael is coming off a 30 point effort against Morgan State and is looking at Dayton like a bear staring at a dog off its’ leash.

Senior guard Tyler Brown (17.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg) is the Redbirds’ other main scoring threat. Brown is an excellent perimeter shooter, 41% from three, and gets to the stripe often — where he connects in 84% of his attempts. Brown can get his shot off anywhere on the floor. Joining Brown in the backcourt is Bryant Allen (10.0 PPG). Allen is a streaky shooter, capable of putting up 30 one night, mocking James Naismith the next.

Johnny Hill (6.4 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.1 rpg) and Jon Ekey (8.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg) round out the Redbirds starting lineup. Ekey is the Redbirds’ best long-range threat and second-leading rebounder. Not a post threat, Ekey helps stretch the floor for guard penetration. Hill is a pass-first guard, not considered a scoring threat.

Kaza Keane, a Canadian freshman, is an excellent playmaker — averaging five assists in just twenty minutes of playing time per game. John Wilkins (5.6 pgg, 3.2 rpg), a 6’9″ forward from France, feels like basketball is getting in the way of his personal life. Nick Zeisloft, a redshirt-freshman, is a three-point specialist (48% from behind the arc), averaging five points per game.

Numbers Game

“Why are numbers beautiful? It’s like asking why is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony beautiful. If you don’t see why, someone can’t tell you. I know numbers are beautiful. If they aren’t beautiful, nothing is.”

Illinois State Redbirds vs Dayton Flyers - December 19, 2012 - College Basketball - StatSheet.com 2012-12-18 21-09-16

Prediction

Can you look ahead to Murray State, is that possible? Between Carmichael and the Redbirds ability to score, particularly from outside, I think the Redbirds come away with the win. Josh Benson gets in early foul trouble, and the Flyers hold the Redbirds below 80 points, but UD still comes up short. Illinois State 75, Dayton 71.

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