Mid-Major Watch: We Have a Non-Butler Horizon League Team

December 15, 2008 – 12:35 am by TheRiot

At this point, if there’s one team casual college basketball fans know out of the Horizon League, it’s the Butler Bulldogs.

It’s for good reason. Butler has established itself as a premier mid-major program by slaying giants and winning Horizon League titles.

But we here at Rumors and Rants would like to submit a new Horizon League team for your approval: The University of Illinois-Chicago Flames. No doubt Butler will be there at the end either way, but we like the Flames for a few reasons.

1.) They have the requisite sharp-shooting guard. Just about every mid-major that goes around defeating BCS schools has one of these (Butler in the past, Davidson anybody?). Josh Mayo is the Horizon’s preseason Player of the Year. He was the nation’s seventh-best shooter in terms of three-point percentage last season. And he’s about 5-foot-5. OK, so he’s listed at 5-11. But if he’s really that tall I’ll be damned. Either way, he’s the Horizon’s best player.

2.) They have a serviceable big man. It’s in this area where the big-time BCS conference schools separate themselves from the mid-majors. Most of the time small schools like this are operating with a 6-8 non-athlete down in the post. UIC’s Scott VanderMeer is a legit 7-footer, averaging 13 points and nine rebounds per game. It ain’t much, but it’s something.

Aside: Both VanderMeer and Mayo are seniors. This is also good.

3.) They’ve already won big games. This is what makes them dangerous come March. Well, if they get a ticket to dance. But anyway, the Flames have hit the road and knocked off two BCS conference teams (Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech).

Now, all this is contingent on health and continuing to play at a high level, but all the ingredients are there to put UIC in position to upset a couple teams come the Spring. Just remember, this post then.

Or if the Flames fail please forget.

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