Name: Northern Illinois University
Conference: Mid-American Conference (MAC)
Enrollment: 20,015, with 15,079 undergraduates
School Colors: Cardinal and black
Nickname: Huskies, currently.
Currently? Well, they started competing in collegiate athletics in 1899 with the nickname “Profs,” which leads me to believe the professors competed (this is apparently not true). They switched to Cardinals in the 1920s, but that was a little too on-the-nose, given their color. They went as the Evansmen in the 1930s, after their football coach George Evans, and finally landed on the Huskies in 1940.
Location: DeKalb, Illinois
DePaul? No, DeKalb.
Still not getting it. Let’s put it this way: If you ever hear anyone refer to DeKalb as a suburb of Chicago, light them on fire and push them out the nearest window.
Notable Alumni: Dan Castellaneta, voice actor best known for being Homer Simpson amongst a bunch of other Simpsons characters as well; Jimmy Chamberlin, former drummer for the Smashing Pumpkins; Joan Allen, a Tony-award winning actress on stage and an Academy Award-nominated actress on screen; Wood Harris, best known as Julius Campbell in Remember the Titans; Cindy Morgan, best known as Lacey Underall in Caddyshack; Joe True, Marquette’s Associate Athletic Director for Development; Kurt Sutter, creator of Sons of Anarchy; Matt Walsh, “that guy” you see in everything, but currently known for playing Mike McLintock in Veep; P.J. Fleck, current head football coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers #RowTheBoat ™; Jordan Lynch, former NIU quarterback who finished third in Heisman Trophy voting in 2013; Michael Turner, former NFL running back for the Chargers and Falcons; professional wrestler Maria Kanellis; long time WSCR radio host Terry Boers, and finally, Tammy Duckworth, current United States Senator from Illinois, first female double-amputee from the Iraq War, and noted badass.
Editor’s Note on Wood Harris: We are not referring to Avon Goddamned Barksdale as “best known as Julius Campbell in Remember The Titans.”
More on Wood Harris: This line by Harris from Ant-Man kills me every time.
Notable basketball alumni: They’ve had a few guys bounce around the NBA, but no one of real significance.
Any famous people who aren’t alumni but have some association with the school? Oddly specific question, but yes! College football’s very own Lee Corso coached at NIU for exactly one season (1984). Also, current NCAA president Mark Emmert taught political science at NIU from 1983-1985.
OK, well, what about their basketball team? Oh, right.
This season: 6-4
Well, kind of: They’re actually only 4-4 against Division 1 teams. They have a 10 point win over “St. Francis (IL)” and a 52 point win over “Rockford.” That may or may not be a rec league all-star team from the Illinois city, which is just a bit northwest of DeKalb.
2017-18 KenPom ranking: #250
VERY IMPORTANT DIRECTIONAL ILLINOIS SCHOOL KENPOM RANKINGS: Southern Illinois (#154), Eastern Illinois (#223), Northern Illinois (#250), Western Illinois (#252)
Guys to know: Eugene German (19.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.1 apg) and Levi Bradley (15.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg). They have two 7-footers, but neither plays more than 6.5 minutes per game.
Coach: Mike Montgomery, a disciple of Tom Izzo. Montgomery was an assistant coach at Michigan State from 2002-2011, when he then took over at NIU. His all-time record as coach of the Huskies is 79-116.
Hey, Wojo talked about NIU as a MAC contender on the radio on Thursday. That’s good, right? It would be if it were true. Northern Illinois is projected by KenPom to finish DFL in the MAC’s West Division with the second worst record in the league overall. They were picked to finish fifth out of six teams in the West in the official conference preseason poll.
Make a prediction! Eh, I don’t love making predictions.
Do it. You’re not the boss of me.
I SAID DO IT. Ok, alright. I’ll go 85-59, in favor of YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles.