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Get To Know A Marquette Basketball Opponent: Chicago State

The Golden Eagles return home to tangle with the Cougars from just down I-94.

Mountain Lion, Brentwood Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Name: Chicago State University

Location: Chicago, Illinois, naturally

Founded: The evolution of the institution started in 1867 with the founding of the Cook County Normal School. As always, yes, “Normal School” means it was a teachers’ college to start. The name transitioned to Chicago Normal School in 1897 as Chicago Public Schools assumed control of things and then Chicago Teachers College in 1938 as they were now using a four-year educational model. In the 1960s, the school moved to the control of the state of Illinois, which meant another name change. With the state expanding the curriculum, the name became Chicago State College in 1967 and then Chicago State University just four years later.

Enrollment: Total enrollment for Fall 2022 is 2,296. I don’t see specific undergraduate numbers in there, but the press release does note that they have 381 freshmen and 225 sophomores this fall.

Nickname: Cougars

Why “Cougars”? I honestly have no idea. Had no idea last time we played them, still have no idea now. If anyone has anything to contribute here, I’d love to see it in the comments.

Notable Alumni: Mamie Till, activist and mother of Emmett Till; Willye White, the first American to participate in five Olympics, qualifying between 1956 and 1972; all four founding members of Styx; and Darron Brittman, the first ever NCAA recognized leader in steals.

Hey, didn’t... No, we’re not talking about him and 2) he didn’t actually graduate.

Last Season: 7-25 with a 3-15 record in the WAC. They lost their first game of the WAC tournament.

Final Ranking: #340

Final T-Rank Ranking: #341

This Year So Far: 2-5, playing all Division 1 contests. They are 2-0 at home with wins over IUPUI and Valparaiso and 0-5 on the road, including a 77-63 loss at Cleveland State on Wednesday afternoon in their most recent contest.

Current KenPom Ranking and Projection: #356 with a projected record of 9-22. Chicago State is playing this season as an independent, so no conference record.

Current T-Rank Ranking and Projection: #331 with a projected record of 11-21.

Wait, those don’t match up: Yep, T-Rank shows them playing both SIU Edwardsville and Southern Illinois on December 16th. Their official schedule says that the SIU in Carbondale is the only game that day.

Returning Stats Leaders

Points: Jahsean Corbett, 12.4 ppg
Rebounds: Jahsean Corbett, 6.2 rpg
Assists: Kedrick Green, 1.1 apg

Actual Stats Leaders

Points: Wesley Cardet, 15.0 ppg
Rebounds: Jahsean Corbett, 8.4 rpg
Assists: Wesley Cardet, 3.3 apg

Shooters? Marquette can not lose track of Elijah Weaver at any moment. The former top 50 prospect with previous stints at USC and Dayton has let fly 32 times from beyond the arc this season and has connected on 14 of them for a 43.8% success rate. The 6’5” Florida native did have a 1-for-5 day against St. Thomas and went 0-3 against Kent State already this season, so Weaver is prone to streakiness.... but that also means he’s at 13-for-24 in CSU’s other five games. Weaver shot 34% at USC and 36% at Dayton, so while this is a better than normal run for him, he’s still clearly capable of draining shots at a high rate.

Leading scorer Wesley Cardet (6’6”, 204 lbs.) is 7-for-17 on the year, so he can’t be allowed to get hot either. It seems that the Cougars are leaning away from Cardet shooting threes over the past three games (only three attempts in the past three games) so maybe that solves itself. Cardet shot just 24% on 42 attempts last season at Samford, so we’ll see how that goes. Jahsean Corbett is 7-for-21 so far this season, and that’s right at that 33% mark. The 6’6” Florida product is averaging fewer attempts than last season when he shot just 27%, so maybe the Cougars have found a sweet spot for him.

Brent Davis and Bryce Johnson are #2 and #3 respectively in attempts so far this year, but they’re having a rough go of it so far. Davis has hit 30.8% of his 26 attempts and Johnson is even worse at 28% of 25 tries. Davis (6’3”, 190 lbs.) was a 32.7% shooter over two years at The Citadel, while Johnson (6’3”, 180 lbs.) hit 32.6% of his attempts last season with CSU. In other words: These are two guys who have been on the edge of being productive shooters in the past, and they’ve been below their own averages so far this year.

Bigs? There are three gentlemen who measure in at 6’9” on the roster and no one else is north of 6’7”. None of them have played in every game so far this season, and Arol Kacuol (6’9”, 225 lbs.) is the only one that’s playing rotation minutes. Kacuol started in CSU’s first three games, missed the fourth, started the fifth, and then came off the bench the last two games. He’s played single digit minutes twice so far this season, including just nine minutes against Cleveland State on Wednesday. In 14.2 minutes per game on average this season, Kacuol is chipping in 3.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

Taeyon Neal (6’9”, 315 lbs.) played sparingly in Chicago State’s first three games but hasn’t seen the court since. Isaiah Hernandez (6’9”, 220 lbs.) played two minutes against St. Thomas in their second game of the year, but that’s it. Do we want to count Amadou Traore? He’s the only 6’7” guy on the team and he weighs in at 250 pounds..... but also hasn’t played yet this year.

Head Coach: Gerald Gillion, in his second season at Chicago State and as a head coach overall. He has a record of 9-30.

All-Time Series: Marquette leads 8-0. The first meeting was in 1989, and MU has never won by fewer than 17 points with four of the contests having a margin north of 30. Last time out against the Cougars, Marquette broke the team record for made three-pointers (18) and the record for three-pointers attempted (39) largely because Markus Howard (11) broke Mark Anglavar’s program record (9) for threes in a game as the Golden Eagles won 95-69.

What To Watch For: keeps a ranking of programs. There’s a bunch of historical performance data that goes into it, but the important thing here is that 357 teams are currently ranked in it..... and Chicago State is #354. They have not finished a season north of 300 in KenPom since 2014, and they haven’t even been north of 340 since 2015. In short: The Cougars are historically speaking one of the worst outfits in the country and Marquette should absolutely smash them.


We must point out that Chicago State currently ranks #46 in the country per KP in offensive rebounding rate. They figure out a way to get to 35.1% of their misses, and they miss a whole bunch of shots (only #236 in the country in effective field goal percentage) so they’re getting a metric ton of second chances. This is notable because Marquette is not a great defensive rebounding team. They’re miles better than they were last season, improving from 31.6% to 27.9% so far this year, and that’s the difference between #314 for a full season and sitting at #153 right now in November. That’s roughly on par with where that number would have ranked last season, so that’s a pretty strong representation of reality. It’s great that MU is better, but they’re going to have to be better than they have been so far this year in order to counter CSU’s pretty strong abilities in that department.

The good news is, of course, that MU has a massive size advantage on the Cougars. As we talked about in the Bigs? section, CSU has really only one guy who can match up well with Oso Ighodaro and Olivier-Maxence Prosper in terms of size, and that guy, Arol Kacuol, has been seeing his minutes fall lately. 6’6” Jahsean Corbett is one of the best offensive rebounders in the country so far this season, especially for his size, so as long as someone puts a body on him, MU should probably be okay.