PSU Thoughts, Standings, & UM Predictions

PSU Thoughts, Standings, & UM Predictions

In my best Jerry Seinfeld voice…what’s the deal with Illinois-Penn State games being played like they’re in another dimension?

Seriously, that one gave me flashbacks to sluggish games of UI and PSU’s past.  A win is a win, though, and I don’t think the coaches and the players will dwell on it for too long, with the obvious exception of watching the tape.  A part of me wants to give both teams as pass, considering there seemed to be a foul called on every possession (52 total, thanks Ed!), which kills the momentum and flow of the game.   Good to see DJ continue his consistent play (18 points) and Brandon start to climb out of his mini scoring funk (16 points). 

On the whole, though, to never have a double digit lead vs. a team like Penn State is a little concerning.  And I’m not buying the whole “PSU has been playing well lately” defense.  They gave some teams a good run, but everyone in the Big Ten has been doing that this year.  This is a bottom feeder team without their star.  Ok, I’ll stop before I start sounding like a Scrooge.

One person who’s not a Scrooge is John Groce, who was spreading the wealth around after the game.

That right there is a prime example of the positive reinforcement that Groce brings to this team and that we didn’t see in previous years.  Other coaches might lead off a press conference after a game like that by listing the negatives.  Not Coach Groce.

Groce was also semi-candid on the high foul count in the game.

Blog PhotoSee the images at left for updated standings.  No analysis this time since I'm posting them late.

More “creative names for the opponent” highlights this go around:  Puny State, Pig Penn Sty, State Penn University, Quittany Lions, Penn Smells of Cover Up U, Naughty Lions, JoePa (paired with Zooker), P State, Penny State, We miss Taylor Battle, and Lion at the bottom of the Big Ten standings.

Next up…a rematch with the X-Men Wolverines…

Similar to Minnesota, you could say that the Illini were the kiss of death to UM after the teams’ first meeting.  They’ve gone 3-3 (although none of their losses are bad ones) and have fallen two games back of the Big Ten lead.  But (and you know where I’m going with this) they’re still a darn good team that has a player of the year-type stud, doesnBlog Photo’t foul a lot, and goes deep into its bench.  The team was outrebounded against Penn State last weekend, so that’s one possible Achilles heel to keep an eye on.  And the Illini appear to have turned a corner in that regard as well, as they’ve out rebounded two of their last three opponents, breaking a streak of being outrebounded that started after (you guessed it) the last meeting vs. Michigan.  And speaking of that UM-PSU game, that’s the last game UM will have played before Sunday.  So the question of ring rust comes into play.  Well, the Wolverines so far this season have had two breaks of one week or more, and in each of those cases, they’ve followed up the break with a win.  And honestly, I think at this point in the season, any team will welcome the break to rest up and get some extra scouting in.  Heck, the Illini women had eight days off recently and followed it up with a big win over Wisconsin.  Apples and oranges, probably, but just thought I’d bring it up.

A late soundbite's UM Coach John Beilein on defending the Illini's three point shooting attack.

Want to make a note as well of the venue this weekend…the Chrisler Center (formerly Chrisler Arena).  I say formerly because the building just underwent a big renovation, and judging from the photos, it looks real sharp.  I’ve mentioned it before, but facilities can go a long way to a success of a program.  No recruit wants to practice or play in a dingy, outdated shanty.  Now…I just hope the folks at the CC have become a bit friendlier than in years past.  I say that because six years ago, I was a part of a famed Orange Krush roadtrip to UM, and even though we were well behaved, we weren’t treated very friendly.  One memory that sticks out is when our group revealed that we were Illini fans, an usher rushed up to us and said, “Any problems from you guys tonight any you’re out of here.”  We were just cheering, dude.  Chill out.

Anyway, this is a game that several blogs ago I pegged the Illini to lose, and I’m sticking with that.  There’s a talent disparity between the two teams, but the fact that the Illini are riding high on a win streak will make this one closer that it would normally be.

MY PREDICTION:  Michigan 75, Illinois 67

Blog PhotoPicks are due by noon Sunday.  Just four games left…don’t give up now!  We’re also still waiting on that perfect score prediction…will it be you?

Other news and notes…

  • Seeing all the photos from hockey at Soldier Field last week got me thinking again of the future of the Illini club hockey program.  After Penn State’s program went D1, there was some scuttlebutt that Illinois would soon do the same.  That talk has since died down, and it’s a shame that it has.  It was take a major financial commitment to go D1, but I think the team could sustain itself if it did.  During my college years, I had the fantastic opportunity to be a part of the Illini hockey radio broadcast crew, and I can tell you that (a) the program is well established (two national titles, three regular season league titles, six league tournament titles, an undefeated season in 08, and a partridge in a pear tree) and (b) it has a cult following.  The only missing piece of the puzzle would be to get Chad Cassel to come out of retirement and coach.
  • Here’s another one for you history buffs…check out this Illini Football ad in a 1939 issue of The News-Gazette.  In case you can’t read the fine print, the limited broadcasting capabilities at the time formed a NG sports staffer to wire details of the game back to the mothership, then a DWS sports announcer would do faux play-by-play, complete with sound effects.  That practice would probably be frowned upon today, but it’s pretty cool to imagine it back then.
  • Speaking of DWS, there’s a chance we’ll be broadcasting a state title celebration on Saturday, as we’ll have live coverage this weekend of the Saint Thomas More girls basketball team at the IHSA state tournament.  We’ll take the air for their semifinal game on Friday at 8, and will have either the championship or third place game on Saturday.  STM has been one of the big surprises of the prep sports year, as they’ve handled most of their opponents behind a head coach with college experience.  Should be a fun listen.  Catch it on 1400-AM or online here.


COMING UP ON SUNDAY OR MONDAY:  UM Thoughts, Standings, and Nebraska Predictions

[Twilight Zone audio via YouTube, Groce audio via Illini Productions, Beilein audio via]


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Bwp 5P wrote on February 22, 2013 at 6:02 am

Hard to say much about a game with 52 Fouls called........other than WHAT?????



Karma don't fail me now:

Wolverines 82

Illini 78


C'Mon guys......PLEASE....PLEASE keep my losing streak alive!

basketball junkie1123 wrote on February 22, 2013 at 7:02 am


team with no mascot 50

Start of a losing streak that will last 6 games.

Wish I could say wait till next year.

indianaillini wrote on February 22, 2013 at 10:02 am

You are about stupid as they come go somewhere else and talk.

illiniphil85 wrote on February 22, 2013 at 11:02 am

I've got to make a move in the standings.  You heard it here first

Illini 78

scUM 75


Good to get the PSU monkey off our back (at least temporarily).





Railsplitter wrote on February 22, 2013 at 12:02 pm

If the ILLINI can make their free throws . I mean it's not like someone is defending them , they'll be ok . However  Workboots  71    ILLINI 66

illiniphil85 wrote on February 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

BTW, thumbs up on Illini hockey going D1. Love to see it happen.

penniless wrote on February 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Ugly early,ugly often,just plain ugly,PSU was ugly,this is more than that ugly       UM  81    Ilini   63   On to the Corn People

nndsmom wrote on February 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Michigan 75

Illini 72

Eric 22 wrote on February 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Too much from the vicous rodents in this one.  Illini haven't played a team of this caliber since the big win against IU. 

Stinky smelly rodents-76


Bob Patterson wrote on February 23, 2013 at 1:02 am
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Michigan 82

Illinois 74

mbelcher wrote on February 23, 2013 at 7:02 am

Michigan  84

Illinois  68

buckhunter2 wrote on February 23, 2013 at 8:02 am


MICH   76

illiniearl wrote on February 23, 2013 at 9:02 am

The Twitter ban affect won't help us Sunday, plus Fichigan is just too well rested:

Fichigan  73

Illini  65

smills89 wrote on February 23, 2013 at 11:02 am

Illini 68

Michigan 75

krervin2 wrote on February 23, 2013 at 4:02 pm


Michigan 68

Tim Ditman wrote on February 23, 2013 at 5:02 pm
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So sorry for the delay guys, but updated standings have now been added.  Working on adding some more soundbites as well.

Reillini wrote on February 23, 2013 at 5:02 pm


Illini-62I hope Im wrong and really Michigan has not looked good the last 2 weeks so anything could happen,but on paper they are better than us.......

Go Illini

Tim Ditman wrote on February 23, 2013 at 5:02 pm
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Soundbite from Coach Beilein has been added!

IlliniGradDad wrote on February 23, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Illinois 61

Maize is an Ugly Color 75

IlliniGradMom wrote on February 23, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Illinois 68

Michigan 63

walker wrote on February 23, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Our win streak comes to an end, but we don't get creamed


ILL  67

MICH  72 

illinirev wrote on February 23, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Illinois 63

michigan 78

touchdown_illinois wrote on February 24, 2013 at 12:02 am

I can't believe this oldie but goodie nickname for the school up north hasn't been used:

scUM 72

Illini 67

I sure hope I'm wrong. 

BTW I'm really getting bored with the foul festival that happens during the last 5 minutes of semi-close games. The NCAA needs to find a way to eliminate that from happening. 

wincer_85 wrote on February 24, 2013 at 1:02 am

What a boring game against Penn State. I like the way we came back after being down early and grinded out a win when the game was slowed down and full of whistles. It showed that we can win in a game when the game is up-and-down and high scoring and also when the game is a drag-it-out fistfight. It wasn't pretty but a W is a W. Also: Shoutout to Brandon. That was one of the best defensive efforts I can remember him playing in an Illinois uniform. We are a better team when he is scoring 10 pts and handing out 7 assists rather than when he is scoring 24 and handing out 1 assist. Good job, Brandon. Keep it up!

Playing at Michigan won't be easy. They have had some time to prepare for us and they are probably a tad tee'd off that they have "fallen off the national radar" with their recent stretch of games. Hint: Everyone in the big ten has that stretch and lost a cpl games. Michigan is still REALLY good. Stopping Trey Burke is darn near impossible. I was going to stay we have to stop the 3...but then if we stretch our d to go on the 3, that leaves Mcgary, Morgan, and co 1-on-1 with our big guys. I love the way sam is crafty and a veteran and i love Nanna's development, but we can't leave them 1 on 1 with michigan's big men. What I'm saying is: Michigan has too many weapons. The final score i really think will be 75-67 Michigan.

BUT...for the purposes of this little competition, I need to make up some ground. Whoever makes more 3s wins? And maybe we catch fire:

Illinois: 76

Michigan: 73

Abrams with another clutch 3.

PZervakis10 wrote on February 24, 2013 at 1:02 am

ILL 72
Mich 67

Why not?!?!

aaeismacgychel wrote on February 24, 2013 at 2:02 am

1 win and we're probably in.  2 wins and we're a lock.  I have a tough time thinking thiswill be one of those victories, but we've played well recently (minus PSU of course) and Michigan has been slumping a little bit, though you can't really fault them based on the teams they've been playing.  Someone has to lose those games.  Illinois' chance of winning are slim in this one, but it's hard to count them completely out.

Michigan: 76

Illinois: 68

jruss62 wrote on February 24, 2013 at 8:02 am

Illini - 74

Michigan - 71

I either go to the head of ther class or to the basement

BleedOandB wrote on February 24, 2013 at 10:02 am

Well well well....look who is still in first ( surprise its me). ;). Big game and I love the way the Illini are playing. However, I think they let this one get away. National TV on Sundays dont always work in our favor. We take a step back today but we go full force the rest of the way


Mich 72

Illini 63

UIBaton8 wrote on February 24, 2013 at 10:02 am

Muck Fichigan 79

Illinois 65

sunnyd503 wrote on February 24, 2013 at 10:02 am

For a while there I thought my PSU prediction might come true. Ouch. But my five game losing streak is still intact. Let's make it six, illini.

Wolverine Teeth scUM 71 Orange Peeled 64

Tim Ditman wrote on February 24, 2013 at 4:02 pm
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Since we have so much time before the next game, I'm going to wait til tomorrow to post a new blog so I can include audio from the Big Ten coaches teleconference.  See you then.