MSU Thoughts, Standings, & Wisconsin Predictions

MSU Thoughts, Standings, & Wisconsin Predictions

Well, if my 0-6 start didn’t ruin my credibility, this one certainly did.

Blog PhotoI thought I wasn’t going out on too big of a limb in picking an Illini victory, but the more I read y’all’s comments, the more I started to doubt myself.  Granted, it wasn’t an MSU blowout as many of you were predicting, but either way the Spartans outhustled and outmuscled the O and B…with much of it coming in the second half.  And don’t think that the importance of having a hot start applies just to the first half.  It applies to the second half too, and when you’re the Illini and you don’t make a field goal for the first six minutes, you put yourself behind the 8 ball.  The ESPN announcers picked up on this and mentioned something along the lines of “Well, maybe they can get it done from the free throw line.”  Uh, what?  If you think you can win a game in the B1G on just free throws alone, you need to get your head examined.  And on the subject of shots falling…it’s been said many times that when the shots fall, this Illini team is great.  But doesn’t that apply to every team…seeing as though that’s how you measure success in the game of basketball?  So are we really saying that Illinois is an average team that gets lucky?

A couple of other observations from tonight…(1) Tough to see Tyler Griffey have another off night.  After making that shot early and breaking his 0 for 20 streak, you thought he was ready to bust out.  When I’m sitting at games at the Hall, I hear a lot of chatter about Tyler’s ineffectiveness (Doug in B-6, I’m lookin’ at you), but I’m not selling him yet.  He puts a ton of effort in on his own in practice, and I’m hoping he finds some magic come B1G Tournament time...or perhaps sooner.  (2)  I like my athletes to have a little bit of a mean streak in them, and as such, I’m becoming more and more of a Nnanna Egwu fan.  He was right in the middle of the barbershopping during the Mizzou game…and tonight when Tracy got tied up with an MSU player who was swinging his elbows a bit too wildly, Nnanna swooped in.  In hockey, that’ll get you a second man in penalty…but in basketball, it gets you the respect of your teammates and this blogger.

Another intense postgame moment from Coach Groce (which I'm always a fan of) about his guys emulating the intensity of the MSU players.

Well, as much as I hBlog Photoate to do this, I think it’s time to look at the bigger picture.  There are 10 B1G games left, and the Illini need 7 wins to get to .500 in league play, which many consider a benchmark to get an NCAA Tournament berth.  So where are those wins going to come?  Penn State and Nebraska at home seem pretty safe.  Northwestern and Iowa on the road are winnable, but tough.  So if you’re generous and pencil in those wins, that still requires you to pull off a few upsets.  Wisconsin and Purdue are your best bets there, but I don’t really have a ton of confidence considering the prior results vs. those two teams.  If you can pull out some Houdini magic and upset someone like Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, or Ohio State, then that helps you out a ton, even if you don’t get to 9-9.  But at this point, I’m not sure if I see any of that happening.  So Assembly Hall staffers…let’s give Cirque Du Soleil a raincheck this time.

Now to why you’re all here…

Blog PhotoThe picks were all over the place this game.  78% of you correctly picked an MSU win, but some of the picks were MSU blowouts resulting in a large RSDT…and some of the picks were pretty close, including nndsmom, who had a perfect RSDT on his/her first pick of the year.  We had 46 pickers overall this game, including 4 people picking for the first time.  We’re up to 76 pickers total, and walko has pulled into a tie for second.  And as we approach the final game in the “first half” of our prediction season, there are a total of 12 people who are still in the running to win in the first of our two prize giveaways.  We’ll also keep an eye on Mike Goebel’s Superbowl pick.

Next up…those pesky badgers again.  This time, they’re in our garden…eatin’ our carrots.

Since the debacle up in Madison, the Badgers have for the most part trended in the same direction as the Illini, going 2-3 with impressive wins over Indiana and Minnesota…but a bad loss to Iowa.  That probably works against the Illini’s favor…insomuch as the Badgers are fighting for enough wins to be in a good spot come March…and they’ll pull out all the stops to get those wins.  The Badgers also continue to be stout defensively, with a lot of stats working in their favor [these were all valid at the start of the week]:  (1) opponents putting up just 55 PPG...that leads the Big Ten and is 8th in the nation (2) leading the nation with 9 turnovers per game (3) fifth in the nation with four three-pointers allowed per game...that’s a stat that directly conflict’s with the Illini’s bread and butter.  Jared Berggren is a big part of all this, averaging 6.5 rebounds per game while on pace to break some UW block records.  With all the talk from Coach Groce about the Illini shoring up their defensive effort, it’ll be interesting to see if the Illini can match the Badgers punch for punch (or maybe in this case, block for block) in that regard.

Of course, the change in venue comes into play as well.  Will homecourt advantage be enough to swing things in the Illini’s favor?  If the team gets out to a fast start and gets the crowd into the game, you lean toward answering “yes” to that question.  However, considering the Illini’s performance vs. MSU…and all the stats mentioned above…the stars aren’t aligning for the Illini in this one.  It hurts to do this, because every loss means the fight to get in the Big Dance gets harder and harder.  But, I have to pick with my brain and not my heart.


So this is it for those of you in the running for our mid-season prize.  One last pick before we tally things up.  Get yours in by 2:30 Sunday.  This reminder…we’ll continue the picks through the end of the regular season, with the winner at that point getting tickets to the Illini football home opener in the fall.  Whoever wins the midseason prize will be ineligible to get that prize, though.  So don’t give up now if you’ve come this far!

Also on the topic of looking ahead, I plan to post a mini update on Sunday night with just standings…so that our winner can make arrangements to get his/her prize ASAP.  Then on Monday, I’ll post a full update with a preview of the Indiana game, including soundbites from Coach Groce and Coach Crean from the Big Ten Teleconference.

Blog PhotoOther random thoughts: 

  • Have you ever wanted to get a behind the scenes look at Illini sports broadcasts?  Then you should follow WDWS’ chief engineer Ed Bond on Twitter.  He’s at every football and basketball game and tweets plenty of pictures.  Check out the one at left to see what Ed’s pregame snack of choice is.
  • A reminder – high schools hoops tomorrow night on WDWS at 7:30 – Urbana vs. Bloomington.  Then a bonus high school hoops broadcast on Saturday, as we bring you the SVC Tournament title game from Parkland College at 6:30.


COMING UP ON SUNDAY:  Prediction standings and the naming of our first winner!

COMING UP ON MONDAY:  Wisconsin thoughts and a look ahead to Indiana…featuring soundbites from Coach Groce and Coach Crean

[Sparta sound via YouTube, Sparta photo via, CDS photo via]


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74illini wrote on February 01, 2013 at 7:02 am

Brandon Paul must look in the mirror.  I think he let his teammates down in this particular case. I had a bad feeling when he started the game hot, something to the tune of hitting first  3/4 or 4/5 shots. His decision making just went completely out the door at that point.  

Mike Henry, Tracy Abrams, and Sam McLaurin all played hard I thought, especially Henry and Abrams.   That was a positive to see.  Hopefully that will continue, it could go long way to possibly stealing a win on down the line.  

I do think the streak will stop with Wisconsin.  The last two games they have showed a tremendous amount of fight, this is why Brandon needs to look in the mirror.  We need him to be a better distributor of the ball.  We need him to play harder on the defensive end of the floor.  If he does not want to do that, bench him.  He was one of the larger contributors to why we lost.  I don't like singling out individuals in a team game, but his play was just atrocious last night and selfish.

Illinois 67

Wisconsin 60


tmh2196 wrote on February 01, 2013 at 8:02 am

So I will attempt, for the second time this year, to take my four year old son to his first game this weekend against WIS.  I was supposed to take to the NW game, but my wife had our new baby boy.  I was glad that I did not drive four hours round trip to see that debacle.  I liked the Illini's fight last night.  If it wasn't for the first few min of the second half, Illinois may have pulled off a big upset against a tough team at home.  I think this is the make or break game of the season for this Illini squad.  Win and you are one step closer to the big dance.  Lose at home again, and things do not look good for our post season hopes.  Who wants to go to the NIT?




Ravens 24

San Fran 28

penniless wrote on February 01, 2013 at 8:02 am

Badgers a team that mirrors MSU BB IQ.However,Badgers lack an Appling point guard that will enforce thier will in the paint point production.The difference will be the home floor and both teams will be extremely tough on defense..Illini get it done at home,but oh my is this game close.    Illini   59  Badgers    57

mbelcher wrote on February 01, 2013 at 8:02 am

Illinois  68

Wisconsin  61

tonyjb37 wrote on February 01, 2013 at 10:02 am
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alvarez  65       thomas  55

Mike Goebel wrote on February 01, 2013 at 10:02 am

Wisky 50, Illinois 43

And I'm sticking by my Super Bowl pick!

Disciple_Of_Battle wrote on February 01, 2013 at 10:02 am

Am I reading this correctly - 8-8 to be .500 in conference?  Don't they play 18 conference games, meaning they need to be 9-9.  Thus, they need 7 more wins.  This is pretty shoddy reporting/coverage. 

Tim Ditman wrote on February 01, 2013 at 11:02 am
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You're correct...just came up a little short in doing my calculations.  It's fixed now.

walker wrote on February 01, 2013 at 10:02 am

You are correct Disciple, but give Mr. D a break.  He's doing a nice job and far from "shoddy" overall in my opinion.

WISC. 56   ILL  51


SF 32  Ravens 21 

Tim Ditman wrote on February 01, 2013 at 11:02 am
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Soundbite from Coach Groce has been added!

Eric 22 wrote on February 01, 2013 at 12:02 pm

This game is redemption for the awful game in Madison.  It will also show us how Groce plans for a team the second time around. 

Ill-56  Wisc-53

P.S.  Maybe my memory is off, but I remember a stat about the Badgers and Illinois the was the 1st team to 50 pts had won something like 10 out of the last 11 games.  Can anyone confirm?

Tim Ditman wrote on February 02, 2013 at 12:02 pm
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According to the Wisconsin game notes, the first team to 60 is 22-1 over the last 11 seasons.

Eric 22 wrote on February 03, 2013 at 6:02 am

I was off on the point total and the wins are even bigger than I thought; I am going to assume the one loss is the Illini? Thanks Tim for correcting.  Keep up the great work!

Here's to hoping to score 60 first and win!

Tim Ditman wrote on February 03, 2013 at 12:02 pm
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From the UW game notes:  The only loss was UW’s 71-64 comeback win on 1/20/07 (ILL led 60-57 with 5:07 left).

goillini80 wrote on February 01, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I was real excited at halftime and then the bubble burst.  To our credit, we kept fighting and were in it til the end.  Just can't afford a dry spell like the beginning of the second half.  I think Groce builds on the first half intensity and we come out ready to play against the Badgers.

Illini 65

Badgers 61


Railsplitter wrote on February 01, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I'm on a roll now boys, thats one in a row    Illini64 Wishcoshin 61

buckhunter2 wrote on February 01, 2013 at 3:02 pm

illini   68

wisc   61

Bwp 5P wrote on February 01, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Keep up the GREAT work Tim! I think most of us enjoy and appreciate your efforts!

Too bad the Guys lost focus in the 2nd half. That was a relly nice 1st they played. Almost reminded me of earlier in the year!


Illini 59

Bucky Badger 55

krervin2 wrote on February 01, 2013 at 4:02 pm


Wisconsin 54

Gamefan49 wrote on February 01, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Illini 63
Wisconsin 59

touchdown_illinois wrote on February 01, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Thanks for running this, Tim. It's lots of fun!

Illini 68
Badgers 62

Go Illini!!

stumblefoot wrote on February 01, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I'm thinking the Illini are finally getting sick and tired of losing and are going to take their frustration out on the Badgers Sunday and deliver quite the smack down.  At least that's what I hope!

Illini - 71

Badgers - 54

Bob Patterson wrote on February 01, 2013 at 11:02 pm
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Illinois 60

Wisconsin 54




teachdacc wrote on February 02, 2013 at 4:02 am

Great job, Tim!  Illini are tired of losing and seniors are out to prove doubters wrong.  January is over Illini 68 Bads 61

Green Shirt wrote on February 02, 2013 at 7:02 am

Illinois            57

Wisconsin     56

jruss62 wrote on February 02, 2013 at 9:02 am

Illini - 64

Wisconsin - 63

Nnaana has a huge game and makes a big block at the end of the game to seal the victory.


IlliniLuther wrote on February 02, 2013 at 9:02 am

ILL 68  Wiscy 62

illiniphil85 wrote on February 02, 2013 at 12:02 pm

First team to 60 wins


Illini 63

Bucky 59

illiniearl wrote on February 02, 2013 at 5:02 pm


Badgers 63

Illini 59

JamesB wrote on February 02, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Why is everyone picking Illinois to win?  I hope you're all correct.  But they looked a lot better than us in the first meeting.


Wisc: 62

Il: 53

stumblefoot wrote on February 02, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Because they are 2 - 4 in road games this year.

@ Florida; L, 56 - 74

@ Marquette; L, 50 - 60

@ Nebraska; W, 47 - 41

@ Indiana; W, 64 - 59

@ Iowa; L, 66 - 70

@ Ohio State; L, 49 - 58

And, they've cooled off lately, losing 3 of their last 4 games.  In three of those four games they also failed to score 50 points.

wincer_85 wrote on February 03, 2013 at 12:02 am


Illinois played well for the most part at Michigan State. Tough place to play but we usually play pretty decent there (kinda like how the football team usually plays well at ohio State. It doesn't make a lot of sense.) Anyway, the first few minutes of the 2nd half was the difference. You could tell the team was rattled. Brandon with a couple bad turnovers and tracy (i think) with an AWFUL out of bounds pass. That got the IZZONE rockin and rollin and that was that. There were about 5 questionable foul calls for both teams....guess they all even out but i don't think MSU should've been able to shoot 32 free throws in the 2nd half. Not saying our defense was stellar by any means.

I am feeling good about the Wisconsin game. How much did we lose by again? 100? if not, it sure felt like it. Either way, I just have a good feeling. Good point brought up by another poster: This game will show how Groce reacts/gets his team ready for a repeat opponent. I'm liking the way Sam is playing and fighting. Our shots are starting to fall at a higher clip. Who knows: Maybe this team will be one of those teams that gains a little confidence here and there and  then goes on a deep run in march. Oh...wait...the Big Ten probably won't allow us to win more than a few games in a row in conference. OK, getting too far ahead of myself. One game at a time.

Wisconsin: 59

Illinois: 64

Ravens: 30

49ers: 27

Dazed1313 wrote on February 03, 2013 at 3:02 am
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Good guys       64


Al Toon's helmet   58

basketball junkie1123 wrote on February 03, 2013 at 8:02 am

Bucky the Badger all the way

Wis 55

Illinois 47

Team dribbles like me.

IlliniGradDad wrote on February 03, 2013 at 10:02 am

Illinois 65

Wisconsin 62

UIBaton8 wrote on February 03, 2013 at 10:02 am

Illinois 72

Wisconsin 68

I would love to see a scrimmage between the mens and womens basketball teams this year... I think the lady Fighting Illini would give the guys a run for their money based on how the women played against Minnesota and Iowa....

IlliniGradMom wrote on February 03, 2013 at 10:02 am

Illinois 68

Wisconsin 65

Time for Griffey to have a big game....

IlliniDick wrote on February 03, 2013 at 10:02 am

Illinois 78

Wisconsin 70

Team works together, Paul and Bertrand will take the lead, Henry will definitely contribute.

Reillini wrote on February 03, 2013 at 11:02 am


Illini-58 We've have not played well against this kind of Team all season, I dont see it happening today either. I hope I'm wrong. Go Illini

sunnyd503 wrote on February 03, 2013 at 11:02 am

The first half of the last time we played was the worst I'd seen us play. That includes our other bad teams the last several decades. I expect a better outing this time but same result. Uncle Bo is one helluva coach. 

Uncle Bo's Ragtime Band 68 The g-Funk Era 64


smills89 wrote on February 03, 2013 at 12:02 pm

ILL 62

Wisconsin 58

BleedOandB wrote on February 03, 2013 at 12:02 pm

A rough loss on a fun day


Wisc 64


aaeismacgychel wrote on February 03, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Illinois: 68

Wisconsin: 62