NU Thoughts, Standings, & PSU Predictions

NU Thoughts, Standings, & PSU Predictions

Everybody relax…it turns out it’s our state, our team after all.

Blog PhotoBlog PhotoYup, that one feels good, and the momentum continues at the right time.  That mini first half scoring drought with some missed bunnies probably won’t fly in the Big Dance, but against Northwestern, you can get away with it.  Especially if you follow it up with a 10 minute, 26-0 run.  Brandon Paul was more of a facilitator in this one (8 points,  5 assists,  6 rebounds), and again, that won’t do you many favors in the postseason, but here, it was a good time to show his versatility.  Also good to see the Illini shore up two categories that led to their first loss to the Cats:  turnovers (18 last time, 9 this time) and bench points (last time 22-6 Northwestern, this time 22-16 Illinois).

If you’re wondering, the 41 points given up by the Illini is by far the lowest of the season (previous low was 51 vs. Nebraska).  But as far as the all-time record goes?  Well, the record book only lists opponent lows in home games, and in that category, the lowest was 34 two times…Savannah State in 2006 and Wisconsin-Green Bay in 1985.  The fewest points given up in a home Big Ten game is 37 three times…twice vs. Blog PhotoBlog Photo(you guessed it) Northwestern in 2007 and 2008 and vs. Penn State in 2004.  Again, those are home games, so not really comparable to last night.  But just throwing them out there for fun.

Prediction-wise, this one turned out very similar to the Purdue game.  Most of the 41 pickers (83%) chose the Illini, but most didn’t pick a blowout, so the RSDTs were in the double digits.  Interesting to note that for the last Northwestern game, tmh2196 checked in last with the highest single-game RSDT this year (43).  This go around with the Cats, he’s in first and only missed picking the spread by one point.  Analysis-wise, penniless was correct in predicting that the bench would be cleared in the final minutes.  And wincer_85 called a less than stellar three point shooting night for NU (5 for 27).

Overall, no big changes in the standings.  It looks like it will be a two person race between walko and penniless for our end of the season prize, although penniless has some work to do (down by 21).  Once again, we held steady at 82 total pickers this week.

Like last time, I got a kick out of everyone’s synonyms for Northwestern:  Northsoutheastern, ChildCats, Purple Felines, Kitties, Cats, Kitty Kats, Pussy cats, Weary Cats, Pukey Purple, The court that looks like purple blueberry barf, Carmody’s Comedy, North by Northwestern, Mildcats, Mildkittens, and Wildcan’ts.

Next up…Penn “Can we have Taylor Battle back please?” State…

Not a ton to say about these guys, as they’ve been following the script of PSU teams of the past.  No Big Ten wins this year…not a balanced offense (50% of scoring coming from Newbill and Marshall)…not getting to the free throw line at a good clip…foul prone…missing their top player (Frazier) due to injury…etc., etc.  Newbill has been hot Blog Photolately, putting up 18 ppg in his last 8 games, but one person does not a stellar offense make.

Had a chance to watch some of PSU’s game vs. Michigan yesterday, and while I give the Lions credit for hanging with the Wolverines til the end, it doesn’t sway my opinion a whole lot…simply because that’s been the norm this year in the Big Ten.  The underdog hangs with the favorite.  Sometimes they pull the upset, sometimes they don’t .  What is a better indicator in my mind is how those underdogs handle themselves late in the second half.  And in this case, PSU didn’t grade out very well.  Bad passes, offensive fouls, guys in foul trouble (Newbill included), trouble breaking the UM zone, etc.

Nothing good from Coach Groce on the Big Ten coaches teleconference this week, so I'll just include this one soundbite from PSU Coach Patrick Chambers on the team's recent offensive development.


Blog PhotoInteresting to note that the Illini haven’t dominated this series like you might have thought.  Illinois leads 24-13 and are 11-5 at home.  The O and B had a good streak going from 1993 to 2005 (18-3, with win streaks of five, three, four, and six), but it’s been mixed results since then, with the good guys going 6-7 and losing two of their last three.  This series, though, has produced one of the more memorable games in my Illini basketball fandom:  the blizzard game on February 1st, 2011.  From trudging through mountainous snow drifts to get the Hall…to being in awe of the low attendance (3,470 – a one fifth full Hall)…to watching fans rush for better seats when it was announced that they could fill the empty ones (see photo at left)…to watching the Orange Krush’s jubilant reaction when it was made known during the game that classes were cancelled the next day…to finding out postgame that Bruce Weber was almost snowed in and didn’t make it to the game…it was a bizarre but memorable night.

Anyway, this is another easy pick.  One team is clearly superior.  Another low scoring affair results in…

MY PREDICTION:  Illinois 69, Penn State 52

I will give kudos to Penn State in one area, though.  Coach Chambers seems like a good guy.  He’s media savvy and pretty generous to boot.  And if you haven’t heard the story of how he found his calling coach, it is a must read.

As always, predictions are due by tipoff on Thursday.  Get crackin'.

Other random thoughts…

  • Last blog I wrote about Illini hoops superfan Popcorn Kid.  It dawned on me after writing that this kid deserves more exposure.  So PK or PK’s family, if you’re reading, e-mail me ( and we’ll set up an interview.
  • Also last blog, I wrote that the higher ups at Northwestern were probably going to stick with the status quo and keep coach Bill Carmody around for another year.  Well, not so fast says Chicago sportswriter Teddy Greenstein, who was a part of the DWS pregame show yesterday.

  • Deron Williams overweight?  A certain high ranking U of I alum thinks so.
  • Tubby Smith loses the moustache…and gains some dance moves.
  • Back to the first line of this blog, which alluded to Illinois’ “Our State, Our Team” slogan.  First of all, some people think it’s cocky, but I have no problem with it.  It shows you who’s boss, and I like my athletic department to have a bit of a ‘tude.  But the whole thing got me thinking…how do the U of I and Northwestern truly stack up on the playing field?  Well, I did the math.  These sports are the ones who had series records listed in their media guides, with the numbers accurate at the start of this school year.

Baseball: Illinois 161-86

Men’s Basketball: Illinois 129-37

Football: Illinois 54-46-5

Men’s Gymnastics: Illinois 9-0

Men’s Tennis: Illinois 58-37-2

Wrestling: Illinois 42-32-2

Women’s Basketball: Northwestern 34-32

Women’s Soccer: Illinois 10-3-3

Softball: Northwestern 16-11

Women’s Tennis: Northwestern 44-8

Women’s Volleyball: Illinois 48-27

Blog PhotoOVERALL: 562-362-12 (Illinois winning percentage of 60%)

So yes, it really is our state, our team.  Barely.


COMING UP ON THURSDAY OR FRIDAY:  PSU Thoughts, Standings, & Michigan Predictions

[DJ Photo via @IlliniHoops on Twitter, Newbill photo via, Groce/Chambers audio via BTN]

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Railsplitter wrote on February 18, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Illini finally coming around . Don't know what took so long. Sooooooo......ILLINI  76.....................PIG PENN STY 55

touchdown_illinois wrote on February 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Illini keep the roll going:

Illini 78
State Penn University 62 (that's the censored version)

Back to .500 in conference!!

basketball junkie1123 wrote on February 18, 2013 at 7:02 pm


penn state 60

Home game, May the orange crush them

tmh2196 wrote on February 18, 2013 at 8:02 pm

This is a must win at home. This team is playing GREAT as of late, but they must keep up their Defensive intensity.  This game scares me a little bit, but I think that Brandon is due for a big offensive game.  I like how the whole team is playing unselfish these past four games.  I predict that Brandon and Bertrand light it up for big numbers, and this Illini team win again.  Keep it up Tyler!  When you play well, we are able to compete, and beat the best teams in the country.


Illini 82

Quittany Lions 58


I wish there was a way that those of us that did not pick in all of the games could qualify for some sort of consilation prize in this AWESOME pick-um game.  I will not miss any games next year!

Thanks again Tim for your time and effort in putting this together!


stumblefoot wrote on February 19, 2013 at 12:02 am

Hi Tim!  I need you to check out my RSDT for the Northwestern game.  I had the spread at 17 (76 - 59), but somehow got dinged with a 14 RSDT instead of 4.  No worries... highly unlikely that it'll matter in the end.  But, there are buddies picking here that I need to beat and grab some bragging rights from.  :o)

OK... on to the Thursday game.

I'm flying in from Colorado and bringing some snow with me to watch my first Illini game of the season in person.  There's no way this game ends up in the 30's is there?

Illini - 66

Nittany Lions - 49

Tim Ditman wrote on February 19, 2013 at 7:02 pm
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This has been fixed, and I also changed the standings so they are bigger and easier to read.

stumblefoot wrote on February 20, 2013 at 9:02 am

Thanks for the fix and LOVE the new, bigger, easier to read standings!

Bwp 5P wrote on February 19, 2013 at 10:02 am

No way I am going to predict an Illini win..............I have a great plan going and it's working!

I pick against them and they WIN! Not that I'm superstitious or anything!!!!


Penn State 64

Illini 60


PLEASE continue to make me WRONG Guys!!!!

Mike Goebel wrote on February 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm

With Michigan on the horizon, i feel like this is  a trap game. I don't think Groce will let them fall into that trap, however.

I'm going Illinois 70, Penn State 55.

Tim Ditman wrote on February 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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Soundbite from Coach Chambers from the Big Ten coaches teleconference has been added.

Bob Patterson wrote on February 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm
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Illinois 79

Penn State 62


Eric 22 wrote on February 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

This is a new era of Illini vs PSU -  Illini dominates with a faster pace and shots fall early and often.   Illini - 79  Penn Smells of cover up U - 56

Green Shirt wrote on February 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Illinois            72

Penn State    60

penniless wrote on February 19, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Closer than most predict.Illini are looking at the record of thier losses and not how they have been playing.Still a win    Illini   71     PSU   63

krervin2 wrote on February 19, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Illinois 80

Penn State 59

illiniearl wrote on February 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Oh Yea!  Here we go again -

Illini  74

Naughty Lions  61

walker wrote on February 20, 2013 at 8:02 am

they always seem to give us fits, but don't think they will this time.


ILL   78

PSU 63

mbelcher wrote on February 20, 2013 at 9:02 am

Illinois  75

Penn St  62


sunnyd503 wrote on February 20, 2013 at 9:02 am

Man oh man was I wrong about last game! Maybe the Illini have shaken off that nasty stretch of games...

But no, in a strange twist of events, Ed DeChellis is brought back to coach against the team he had relative success against. And the NCAA rules that Battle has one more game of eligibility left. Penn State dominates until a furious Illini rally falls short. 

JoePa 54 Zooker 53

Ok this is just getting weird now. I just hope the Illini don't stumble. This is the most important game this season for them to win. 

Gamefan49 wrote on February 20, 2013 at 10:02 am

Snow in the forecast again! Is it Penn State? Hopefully the snow goes north this time!

Illini 73

Penn State 58

Another blow out in the making.

buckhunter2 wrote on February 20, 2013 at 11:02 am

ILLINI    83

P. STATE  62

wincer_85 wrote on February 20, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I loved seeing Illinois having some fun and blowing out their little brother on the purple floor. Good stuff. The fast break where Abrams threw it to Paul, and Brandon did the fake shot pass back to Tracy shows that this team is having fun again. Brandon was smiling all the way back down the court after that. DJ has been on fire lately. The whole team seems to be having fun.

I don't see Penn State posing much of a threat even tho they have kind of had our number over the past few years. But  those Penn State teams had some big bodies in the paint that just overpowered and bullied us (Jamell Cornley comes to mind) along with one perimeter player that could make shots (some guy named taylor battle.) I don't see really any of those players on Penn State this year. Sorry to Tim Frazier-he is fun to watch when healthy.

Illinois wins this one going away:

Penn State: 52

Illinois: 67

aaeismacgychel wrote on February 21, 2013 at 1:02 am

We can't drop this one.  Just can't.  That said, I'm not going to go all willy nlly and start picking us to win because you don't mess with something that works.


Penn State: 55

BleedOandB wrote on February 21, 2013 at 7:02 am

If it smells like a trap and looks like a trap....its probably a trap. Except the Illini know it which means that they are paying attention. Illini use this game as a competitive tune up to get better and get ready for the rest of the season. ( Does the snowstorm give us a down crowd? Should be a typical ILL PSU game where nobody shows up ( meaning A section oldies) Could be very low scoring

 Ill 63

PSU 55

jruss62 wrote on February 21, 2013 at 8:02 am

Illini - 77

Penn St. - 62

IlliniGradMom wrote on February 21, 2013 at 10:02 am

Illinois 75

PennSt 68

smills89 wrote on February 21, 2013 at 11:02 am

Illini 74

Penn State 59

IlliniGradDad wrote on February 21, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Illinois 75

Penny State 48

illiniphil85 wrote on February 21, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Damn, almost forgot to get my pick in. I haven't tried to access from mobile. Not sure how quick or easy that'd be


Illini 68

PSU 61

nndsmom wrote on February 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Illini - 72

Penn St - 60

IlliniDick wrote on February 21, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Illinois 65

Penn St. 51

Great game for Brandon Paul.

UIBaton8 wrote on February 21, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Illinois 83

We miss taylor battle 58

illinirev wrote on February 21, 2013 at 5:02 pm

UI 72

PSU 55

Reillini wrote on February 21, 2013 at 5:02 pm



We need this one again.... And I think they will do it again.

Go Illini