Purdue Thoughts, Standings, & Northwestern Predictions

As I was talking to folks and carousing the web during the game last night, there was one common word that kept coming up.

Blog PhotoNot only was last night fun to watch, but I’m sure it was fun to play.  And it’s always fun when you can snap a long losing streak to a league opponent.  Also, it’s fun to get a game that’s not stressful every once in a while.  The Illini offense got rolling early in this one and never looked back, grabbing over half of their missed shots and putting up one of their most balanced scoring attacks of the year with eight guys finding the bottom of the net.

And surely I’m not going to talk about last night without posting this…

Lots of talk on Twitter and on the DWS Postgame Show about the last time an opposing coach was thrown out of an Illini hoops game.  Bob Knight was the top name that came up, but News-Gazette Sports Editor Jim Rossow comes through in the clutch and points out this game from 1997.  Know of another?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Rather than use a clip of Coach Groce talking about the same ol’ same ol’ in the postgame press conference, I’ll instead bring you this whimsical sounbite where Groce details his Valentine’s Day plans.

Blog PhotoTaking a look at the prediction standings...

Railsplitter and illiniearl came up the big winners this go around.  Overall, 83% of you correctly picked the Illini, but not many picked an Illini blowout, so the RSDTs were in the double digits.  We had 40 pickers this game with no new faces.  Overall, we had no change in the top four.  Bob Patterson gets out of the basement with his first correct pick of the year, and Bwp 5p has the unfortunate distinction of being the first to reach double digit losses.  Overall, we held steady this go around with 82 total pickers.

Had a lot of fun reading everyone's creative ways to refer to Purdue:  Boilers, Poopdue, PU, Purdoggiedoo, Boiler boys, Pur, leakie steam pipes, Matt's Methane (coupled with John's Jock), PurWho, PUD, and the always popular Purdon't.

On to round two with Northwestern…

It’s no fun to bring up, but just one month ago, the Cats showed the Illini whose state it was with a beatdown at the Hall…one of the lower points in my time watching Illini hoops.  Since then, the Cats have scored a home upset over Minnesota and haven’t done much else.  It’s looking like another NIT berth and another “Ok we hit our low standard so we’ll keep Billy C for one more year” type of season in Evanston.  What’s worse for them is that two of their starters – Jared Swopshire and Alex Olah went down with injuries over the weekend.  We know Swopshire is out for the year, and Olah might be out this Sunday.  That means NU will have to go deeper into its bench than it would like, putting in guys that don’t have much experience in league games and who might be outmatched in certain situations.  This is just the most recent in a laundry list of injuries and setbacks that the Cats have had to deal with this year.

Blog PhotoAnd of course, with home court advantage being so important in the B1G this year, you have to ask if that comes into play in Sunday’s matchup at Welsh-Ryan.  Well, if you’re familiar with the arena, you know the answer is a resounding no.  At Welsh-Ryan, there are two colors in the crowd…purple in the lower bowl and the color of the opposing team in the upper bowl.  By that I mean opposing team’s fans often invade Welsh Ryan, and the Illini have been the worst (best?) offenders in recent years.  Plus (and I’m trying to be nice here), W-R is not much of an arena to begin with.  I once went to a game there with some family members who had never been to the arena, and as we made our way to the top row of seats whose surroundings resembled a boiler room, they had looks on their faces like, “Toto, we’re not at the Assembly Hall anymore.”  And honestly, I feel for Cats fans.  Having a great facility is key to having a great program.  Heck, ours here in Champaign is serviceable and we’re still renovating it.  But I digress…

Like the Purdue game, I’m not letting the last meeting between these two teams affect my picking.  The Illini were down then…they’re up now…NU is an average team…who’s razor thin in depth…homecourt advantage plays no factor…hence…

MY PREDICTION:  Illinois 70, Northwestern 53

I will caution you to keep an eye on NU’s backdoor cut that burned the Illini so much last time.  And you can also expect another low scoring affair, as NU is a low scoring team in general…and the Illini could be held down by that.

Predictions, as always, are due by tipoff on Sunday.  And please continue to let me know if I miss your pick when updating the standings.  Picks are coming at me from all angles, and with all the math I’m bound to miss a few.  And keep in mind that this blog is designed to be causal and present a fan’s take on things.  So if the analysis isn’t hard hitting enough…if you’re lost in the pop culture references…if you’re a grammar freak…then head on over here.

Blog PhotoOther notes…

  • This is probably one of those “you had to be there” moments, but it’s too cool not to mention.  One of the most popular fans at Illini home games is a youngster affectionately known as Popcorn Kid.  As the name suggests, he dances to the Assembly Hall tunes with a popcorn bucket on his head.  Well, last night, when the camera was trained on his seat, Popcorn Kid was nowhere to be found.  Then, I look over at the Orange Krush and not only see the kiddo dancing…but all of the Krushers had popcorn buckets on their heads too.  The crowd loved it, and a BIG kudos from me to whoever thought up that idea.  It probably made the kid’s year.
     
  • By now most of you have heard of Campus Spirit Revival, the U of I student group that recently surveyed students about a potential new symbol for the university (see one of the choices at left), replacing Chief Illiniwek.  I have to be careful about what I say here because my day job has me reporting on this topic in an impartial manner.  But, the whole thing is...interesting.  The results of the survey aren’t being released due to a procedural hangup, and even when they are, it’ll be up to the U of I administration to make any changes, not the students or the Student Senate.  Let’s face it…the Chief isn’t coming back, and a replacement for him will never fly.  So let’s just all live our lives and focus on supporting the athletes on the court/field rather than clinging to pipe dreams.
     
  • Want to welcome back one of my colleagues Brian Moline to the blogosphere.  Interesting stuff in his latest update.
     
  • Speaking of interesting stuff, check out this blurb from Chicago sports guru (and frequent DWS guest) David Schuster on Derrick Rose spurning the hometown media.  In his road to recovery, DR had done everything right PR-wise up til now, but this is a misstep.
     
  • Two programming plugs:  Tomorrow at 5:10, I’ll be pinch hitting for Steve Kelly on SportsTalk on DWS.  Some Illini hoops talk is on tap…we’ll talk high school hoops with the News-Gazette’s Matt Daniels…and will preview the Illini Baseball season with Coach Dan Hartleb.  Then later at 7:30, Brian Moline and I have another high school hoops broadcast as Urbana takes on MacArthur.  The Tigers have been playing spoiler lately and will surely bring their A game tomorrow night.  If you’re out of the immediate listening area, you can hear all this on wdws.com.

-Tim

COMING UP ON MONDAY:  Northwestern thoughts, prediction standings, and Penn State predictions (with soundbites from Coach Groce and Coach Chambers)

[Spongebob photo via stuffpoint.com, Spongebob audio via YouTube, W-R photo via nusports.com, Colonel Kernel via Campus Spirit Revival on Facebook]

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Railsplitter wrote on February 14, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Thank you Tim, the applause is deafening. And now I will predict the exact score for Sundays game.............Illini..76.....Northsoutheastern 64 . Now, if all the rest of you pick one point differently , I'll be closest again an there will be a 32 way tie for second.

tmh2196 wrote on February 14, 2013 at 10:02 pm

It was against NW at home that I got the worst score of the season this year in this enjoyable pick-um game.  If we can't CRUSH them at home, how can we hope to win big away?  However, this Illini TEAM has looked more tough and together as of late.  I am starting to be very optimistic at their chances moving forward.  Nice to see so many players involved in their recent success!

Illini-78

ChildCats-56

Go Illini!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Eric 22 wrote on February 15, 2013 at 6:02 am

The wildkitties played some inspired basketball against Ohio State and the back cuts killed the Bucknuts.  Groce will have a plan that the players will follow after the home loss to these guys.

Redemption -   Ill-65  Purple felines-59

illiniphil85 wrote on February 15, 2013 at 7:02 am

No way the Mildkittens should win this with a depleated rooster, but I'm in no way sold that we don't have a few hiccups remaining. Losing this one would be fowl.

Kitties 64

Illini 73

Bwp 5P wrote on February 15, 2013 at 9:02 am

No way am I going to break the Good Karma by picking the Illini to win. I see Marcus did....and it's a good thing they handled their business or it could have been blamed on him!

Wildcats 67

Illini 63

 

C'Mon Illini....keep making me wrong Guys!!!!

penniless wrote on February 15, 2013 at 9:02 am

Can not believe the Cats did us in on our court to begin with.  Illini   75   Cats   59    Groce clears the bench last 3 minutes or it could get ugly.==Over kill on Painter escort off the court,tainted a good win.Where will it end?

illinirev wrote on February 15, 2013 at 10:02 am

Illinois - 71

Kitty Kats - 57

IlliniDick wrote on February 15, 2013 at 10:02 am

Illinois 73

NW 67

Illini play as a team like they did against Purdue but this time Paul doesn't foul out and has a really good scoring night.  Also, Griffey gets jiggy with it like the Purdue game.

 

mbelcher wrote on February 15, 2013 at 11:02 am

Illinois  72


Northwestern  76

basketball junkie1123 wrote on February 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Well I have been wrong for most of my predicitions.  But hey three in the roll.  May I remind you they beat Illinois the first time.  We take some teams for granted, fall  behind early, get shook, and it is all over.  Hey team they almost beat Ohio.  Close till the final two minutes.. 


With that is mind


 Big heads 65


Pussy cats 60

Mike Goebel wrote on February 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Illini on a roll. Illini 73, Northwestern 60.

IlliniLuther wrote on February 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm

ILL 64  NW 55

buckhunter2 wrote on February 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm

ILLINI  65

NW      57

walker wrote on February 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Quite frankly, if we can't beat these guys, we probably don't deserve consideration for the big dance. I think we will continue with our present momentum.


 


ILL 77  NU  66

illiniearl wrote on February 16, 2013 at 12:02 am

On to the next beat down and payback!     The Illini are in the zone and vortex and it's a wonderful thing to watch -

Illini  83

NW Weary Cats  60

touchdown_illinois wrote on February 16, 2013 at 9:02 am

Illini get some payback and keep on their roll:

Illini 75

Pukey Purple 63

I love the Sponge Bob Fun clip, Tim!

stumblefoot wrote on February 16, 2013 at 10:02 am

Another opportunity to show the selection committee we've learned how to take care of business  and win the games we're supposed to win.

Illini - 76

Wildcats - 59

krervin2 wrote on February 16, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Illinois 71

Northwestern 62

PZervakis10 wrote on February 16, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Four in a row????

I think so!


Illini: 78  NW: 55

aaeismacgychel wrote on February 16, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Northwestern played really well against OSU last time out and they really sliced Illinois up on the backcuts.  I would guess that Groce spent a good time dissecting tape and that the "revenge" theme was played a lot, but this game does worry me a bit.  I'll go:

 

Illinois: 63

Northwestern: 64

JamesB wrote on February 16, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Northwestern always plays us tough lately.  I don't think we get this one at their place.  Due to come back down to earth.

 

NW - 67

Il - 57

Green Shirt wrote on February 17, 2013 at 7:02 am

Illinois              67


Northwestern   62

jruss62 wrote on February 17, 2013 at 9:02 am

Illini - 67


Cats - 58

ehsfan wrote on February 17, 2013 at 10:02 am

NU 56 Illini 53. We are due for a let down, and the Cats seem to have our number in recent games.

IlliniGradDad wrote on February 17, 2013 at 10:02 am

Illinois 72

NW 57

 

Reillini wrote on February 17, 2013 at 10:02 am

Illini-68


NU-63


This won't be pretty but we really need this game. I think we win it.


Go Illini

IlliniGradMom wrote on February 17, 2013 at 10:02 am

Illini 69

Northwestern 61

 

BleedOandB wrote on February 17, 2013 at 11:02 am

The way we are playing I will give them this one on the road, we are a way better team than what we were 1 month ago.......

Ill 67

The court that looks like purple blueberry barf 58

wincer_85 wrote on February 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

That purdue game was great to watch. It has been a while since we've seen Illinois go out and be in control for the entire game (forget the first few minutes against Purdue.) How about that effort from our guys on the glass!? If we play with that same energy today, Northwestern doesn't stand a chance. Losing Swopshire is a big blow.

Illinois is starting to get a little swagger back. Hope Groce keeps the guys focused on winning one game at a time-we all know these guys get to feeling good about themselves and let one slip away. I'm tired of former walk-on Reggie Hearn tearing us up. As long as Northwestern doesn't shoot lights out from 3, we win. We can't get swept by our little brother, right!?

Illinois: 71
Northwestern: 56

UIBaton8 wrote on February 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Illinois 68

NW 57

sunnyd503 wrote on February 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I don't think the Illini will win big in Etown. Swopshire is not that big of a difference maker.

hope to keep my wrong streak going. Hearn hits a game winning shot at the buzzer. 

Carmody's Comedy 68 Orange Julius 67

PS is Colonel Kernel high?

Gamefan49 wrote on February 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Illini 74
NW. 62

smills89 wrote on February 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Illini 64           Northwestern 55

Tim Ditman wrote on February 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm
Profile Picture

That's the deadline...enjoy the game!