UIC (that's the University of Illinois at Chicago) ruined Colorado State's vacation in the Windy City over the weekend by upsetting the Rams, 64-55. The win cemented the Flames (their mascot is a reference to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which originated a few blocks from campus) as a legitimate mid-major contender from the newly Butler-less Horizon League and adds to a resume that also includes wins over Iona, Northwestern and Mercer.
In the Horizon League's preseason poll UIC was picked to finish second to last in head coach Howard Moore's third season after winning seven and then eight games in his first two seasons. Now, at 8-1 after winning seven straight, a week after they debuted at No. 22 in the CollegeInsider.com mid-major top 25 and at No. 15 in the ESPN College Basketball Nation's Mid-Major Power Rankings, the Flames are smashing expectations.
Here's a look inside the numbers.
$2,137,907 was spent by UIC's athletics department on their men's basketball program in 2011, according to Basketball State. Chicago contemporaries Northwestern ($4,577,278) and DePaul ($6,467,709) spent more. Loyola ($1,790,583) and Chicago State ($673,195) spent less.
164 UIC has climbed 164 spots in Ken Pomeroy's rankings, from 288 as a preseason team to 124 today. Based on John Templon's numbers it's probably the current largest jump among all 347 D-I teams.
50% of junior wing Hayden Humes' shots from beyond the mark have found their mark (19 of 38). The 6-8 former Toledo transfer has an effective field goal percentage of 64.0 percent to go with a 131.0 offensive rating.
28 teams this season have restricted a D-I opponent to less than 0.60 points per possession in a game. The Flames did it to Mercer at the Paradise Jam when they beat the Bears, 62-36, in 59 possessions. UIC maintains a defensive efficiency (0.82 ppp) that ranks 10th nationally.
16 years have passed since UIC's next-best start. They went 10-1 to start that season. The Flames haven't won seven games in a row since the 2003-2004 season.
8 Horizon League teams (all of them) feature an efficiency margin that now trails UIC's +0.14 (0.96-0.82) margin, including Valparaiso (6-3) and Detroit (4-4).
7 teams in the nation feature more effective shot defense than UIC, which has restricted teams to 40.3 percent from the floor.
3.4 is senior point guard Gary Talton's assist to turnover ratio. Talton, a two-year starter and former JUCO transfer, has posted six games with one turnover or less to go with an assist in 34.3 percent of his chances.
1 UCF transfer in former reserve center Josh Crittle made his way to the Flames in the offseason. The Illinois' native's value in the post is hard to quantify but has changed the entire face of UIC's offensive and defensive units as he opens up the wings and is hard to beat in the low post. He plays beyond his 6-9, 260-pound frame.