UM Thoughts, Standings, & Nebraska Predictions

UM Thoughts, Standings, & Nebraska Predictions

With apologies to Charles Dickens…

It was the best of times halves, it was the worst of times halves, it was the age of wisdom rebounding, it was the age of foolishness poor defense and silent stars, it was the epoch of belief another resume win, it was the epoch of incredulity a letdown, it was the season of Light a great tournament seed, it was the season of Darkness an OK tournament seed, it was the spring of hope the first six game B1G win streak since 04-05, it was the winter of despair a win streak snapped, we had everything a win before us, we had nothing a loss before us, we were all going direct to Heaven the Beef House, we were all going direct the other way to Taco Bell.  In short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only the Illini let another one slip away.

Blog PhotoBack to modern day English now…there must be something in the water up in the state that looks like a hand that makes Illinois teams do an about face in the second half.  We saw it earlier vs. MSU (outscored 53-38), and we saw it yesterday (outscored 43-27).  First half, rebounds were 18-12 Illinois and BP and DJ combined for 16 points.  Second half, rebounds were 17-10 UM and BP and DJ were silent (4 points combined, with Brandon not attempting a shot).  I know the talk around BP lately has been his role as a facilitator, but he can’t be just that if the team wants to make a run in March.  Elsewhere, as much as some of us might dislike Dan Dakich, he pointed out a consistent theme of the Illini’s defense yesterday…which was defenders going to help then leaving a man open, leading to open looks for UM.  On the flip side (and this may be too much of a “back in my day” grumpy old man post), I’d like to see an offense every once in a while that isn’t run and gun.  Get in a set play and get a quality shot.

After typing that, I feel like I might be being too critical.  But at the same time, it’s a matter of hanging on to a lead and closing out a game.  Either way, this one is obviously not considered a bad loss, as the result is what the majority were expecting.

As you might expect, Coach Groce highlighted the difference between the two halves after the game.

Blog PhotoTaking a look at our pick-em competition...

Illini70 takes top honors this game, as he picked the margin of victory right on the nose.  Of the 35 pickers this game, 27 (or 77%) correctly picked UM.  Overall, BleedOandB maintains his/her one game lead, and walko maintains his grip on second place and frontrunner to win the end of the season prize.  There are eight people who are either one or two games back of second place and are still in the running for the prize.  And there are 18 people who have picked every game this year, with records ranging from 11-4 to 3-12...although I think a few picks have been driven by the desire to get the team good karma and not necessarily based on who you all think will win.  And there's nothing wrong with that...this is all for fun.  We are still holding steady at 83 pickers for the year.

On to Senior Day…

Despite the Huskers being a lower caliber team, I would expect this one to be similar to the Penn State game and not be a blowout, but see the Illini maintain control throughout.  I would assume that Coach Groce has all the Xs and Os figured out by now, but if he did want to throw some different combos out there, this would be the last chance to do it, with two tough road games left on the regular season schedule.  Although  I’m pretty content right now with how the guys have been used and plugged into different situations, and it seems like the guys have bought in as well (e.g. Griffey embracing his sixth man role).  Any changes that you all would like to see?

Some interesting comments on today's Big Ten coaches teleconference.  A reporter asked how the coaches are dealing with turnovers.  Here's Coach Groce's response...

And a much different response from Nebraska coach Tim Miles...

And a bonus soundbite from Coach Groce on Nebraska's development this year...

Blog PhotoPick-wise, this is another one that doesn’t require a lot of brain racking.  The Illini were coming off a loss the first time they played the Huskers and got a big confidence boosting win. Talent once again prevails and the seniors get one last win at the Hall.


Speaking of this senior class, what does everyone think about the legacy the left on the program?  Obviously, things aren’t too impressive results-wise with only one NCAA Tournament win (so far), but you have to remember that there was major strife surrounding the program during the end of the Bruce Weber era, so the guys had to weather that distraction.  And I think they did a good job with that, and overall these are a group of high character, charismatic guys who stayed out of trouble.  DJ in particular, judging from stories from mutual friends, is a very humble guy who makes good life decisions.  On the court, this class certainly produced some individual highlights:  Brandon’s 43 point performance vs. Ohio State, Griffey’s game-winners vs. Gardner-Webb and Indiana, DJ’s buzzer beater vs. Hawaii, and others.  So overall…not a legendary senior class, but a pretty solid one.


Blog PhotoOther nuggets…

  • After attending three events in as many days at the Assembly Hall, I have to give a “real men of genius”-type shoutout to the crew that works through the night to get things ready for the next day.  Last week saw a men’s game on Thursday, a country concert on Friday (which I give a B-), and a women’s game on Saturday.  That’s a whole lotta work in a short time period, so hats off to those guys.  As you might know, the Hall is celebrating its 50th birthday this year, and the News-Gazette has put together some great work on the matter here, here, here, here, and here.
  • Speaking of the Hall, U of I students will soon vote on whether to chip in an extra $50 a year each to fund its renovation.  That shakes out to about 17% of the total price tag.  I attended countless events at the Hall as a student, so I’d have no problem with it.  But what about those who don’t?  Is it fair to reach into their wallets?  This is another topic that I have to stay unbiased on, so I’ll leave that up to you all to decide.
  • Great to see that a contract extension is on the way for Illini soccer coach Janet Rayfield.  Even better to see that she wants to end here career at Illinois.  I've been working with Janet for several years (currently as the color man for DWS soccer broadcasts), and not only is Janet great to work with, she's arguably the best Xs and Os mind in the game today.
  • Our Brian Barnhart ought to love this one.  SLU play by play man Bob Ramsey shuts down a ref who overheard some unflattering comments (see photo above).

  • A couple blogs ago I put the word out for an interview with Illini basketball’s biggest fan Popcorn Kid.  I got to talk to him last week and put together this report.  Hope you enjoy.


COMING UP ON SATURDAY:  Nebraska Thoughts, Standings, & Iowa Predictions

[Groce/Miles audio via BTN, seniors photo via, SLU audio/photo via JoeSportsFan1 on YouTube]




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penniless wrote on February 25, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Release the reins and the Seniors,its thier night.Take the night off Coach and let BP,DJ,TG be the men of the night and the others can join in.  Ilini   79   Corn People   57

krervin2 wrote on February 25, 2013 at 8:02 pm


Huskers 52

BleedOandB wrote on February 26, 2013 at 8:02 am

Still in first!!! I know that I already won the Indiana tickets but if I win the season there should be some sort of prize....shirt, trophy, ( tickets to Big Ten Tourney?)

With that said, I look forward to this game. It should be fun and there will be more smiles than tears

ILL 72

NEB 61

Bwp 5P wrote on February 26, 2013 at 9:02 am

"17 people who have picked every game this year, with records ranging from 11-4 to 3-12...although I think a few picks have been driven by the desire to get the team good karma and not necessarily based on who you all think will win.  And there's nothing wrong with that...this is all for fun."


Bingo Tim! And I don't intend to stop!

Huskers 74


Go Illini.....make me a loser again!


touchdown_illinois wrote on February 26, 2013 at 11:02 am

Illini dominate the Cornshuckers from start to finish on Senior Day/Assembly Hall 50th B-Day:

Illini 82

Cornshuckers 64

Go Illini!!!

Eric 22 wrote on February 26, 2013 at 12:02 pm

This one is going to make everyone forget about the scUM game. 

Ill-83  Ne-one day will have a competition basketball team-braska - 60

basketball junkie1123 wrote on February 26, 2013 at 3:02 pm

the corn growers 55

Illinois 45

Bye Bye the dance. 

The cries of the seniors will be over shadow by the boos of the fans. 

Next year the coach will have 5 sholarship players, for all the others will leave.


Bwp 5P wrote on February 26, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Are you related to CowPie?

That's just insane! You may not have noticed....but in my opinion........these players LIKE their Coach!

You must be nucking futz!

basketball junkie1123 wrote on March 01, 2013 at 9:03 am

No I am not related to cowpie.  It is playing time and what is coming in.  The soph are so close that if one leaves they all will. Check postings from last year when Groce came in.  I stand with my post.  Penn State beat Mich.  We need two of the last three to make it in.  Illinois does not come back from a lost too well. Something with Illinois for years.  They get big headed about winning a big game then lose , and keep losing.  Steve Bardo talk about it while doing the color for some ESPN game..  This was not an Illinois game.

Hey i would love to see Illinois win out all the games they play. But I don't see if happening.

Full more last year the Illinois ended up crying at the end of the game they lost at Neb.  Illinois fans are tired of Illinois losing games they should of won.



Tim Ditman wrote on February 26, 2013 at 7:02 pm
Profile Picture

Standings have been updated with a straggler pick I missed.

tmh2196 wrote on February 26, 2013 at 7:02 pm


Half Time Tweeters-66

Brandon has 24 pjoints or better, and Tyler hits four three's.  Illini need to win this one at home to lock up a big dance invite.  I still like this TEAM to make a sweet sixteen run this year.  


GO ILLINI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mike Goebel wrote on February 26, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Illini detassle Huskers 87-68


Sad I missed the Michigan pick! Was out of town!

illiniearl wrote on February 26, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Seniors, for all you've been through, thanks for the memories and for being an Illini!   Enjoy your night!

Illini:  75

Cornjerkers:   53

illiniphil85 wrote on February 27, 2013 at 7:02 am

Illini 71

Neb 63

Railsplitter wrote on February 27, 2013 at 7:02 am

Thanks for oing this Tim, looks like a lot of work. I know I couldn't do it . Have you got anything planned for the BIG tourney. That would be fun .  Now on to my professional prediction. ILLINI .....79.......Cornpone.....60 . Nana goes for a quintuple triple.

jruss62 wrote on February 27, 2013 at 8:02 am

Illini - 79

Nebraska - 61

BleedsOandB you have my respect and my vote for guesser of the year or (MVF). Nice job. Tim I have really enjoyed the blog you keep it fun and up beat. I tried to make a move last week and it bit me in the butt, so I'm back to picking with my head.

nndsmom wrote on February 27, 2013 at 8:02 am

Illini 70

Nebraska 65

I think it'll be a closer game than it ought to be.  I just don't see the Illini playing hard enough when they face lesser competition.

74illini wrote on February 27, 2013 at 9:02 am

I think Illinois comes out and plays hard and that will propel them over any potential mistakes they make in this game.  Nebraska has lost their last 3 road games by a combined 158-237. That's an average of defeat of over 26 pts per contest, Ouch!

The Iowa game has me most intrigued. Hawks only have lost to two teams this year on their home floor.  Going to be hard for the Illini to find a win after Nebraska.

Illinois 78

Nebraska 61.

illinirev wrote on February 27, 2013 at 10:02 am

The program will miss these seniors next year. They learned on the fly in this their final season. They have carried themselves well on and off the court. While I yell, "Brandon," a lot during games, I will miss watching these players.

Not sure about the other seniors, but I think DJ has a B1G game. In honor to his big brothers, TA also has a nice game.

Last sightings at the AH for some underclassmen too, I'm guessing - and not because they will declare for the NBA draft. Thanks for helping out in practice Ibby and Mike.

Illinois 69

Nebraska 57

JamesB wrote on February 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Every time I pick us to lose, we win.

So, with that said, we will be distracted by senior night and come in over confident.  The result will be a return to the bubble, and that's trouble.

Nebraska - 60

Ill   - 58


walker wrote on February 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm

ILL  80   NEB  67

PDOG wrote on February 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Can't believe people are really giving Nebraska the nod in this game. We have been playing pretty well and have beaten the people we should have beaten ever since the loss to NW. We will win comfortably.


Green Shirt wrote on February 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Illinois         70

Nebraska    57

Crummy1 wrote on February 27, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Illinois 68 Nebraska 57


Good luck to the Illini, especially the seniors to get a win on senior day. I met DJ at Ubben the summer before starting his freshman year. He came up and introduced himself in between shooting baskets. What a very nice young man. GO Illini


As a long time season ticket holder...And sincerely with all due respect to the "Popcorn Kid' the act is getting old game after game and multiple times a game. Give some of the other little kids a refreshing chance to get a small chance of being on the big screen...

buckhunter2 wrote on February 28, 2013 at 8:02 am

ILLINI    77

NEB      68

stumblefoot wrote on March 01, 2013 at 6:03 am

Illinois - 80

Nebraska - 58

wincer_85 wrote on March 01, 2013 at 11:03 am



I will also be sad to see the seniors go. They have had some ups and downs, obviously, but they have done and said the right things on and off the court (maybe that is part of the downs, we may need someone with a little nastiness to them on the court-maybe not so much off the court.) Bottom line is these seniors have practiced just as much and put in just as much time as anyone else in the program's history and they deserve to be praised for that. What a better way to close out their home careers than stomping Nebraska?


I think we come out a little too hyped up and Nebraska jumps out to an early lead. We calm down and end up winning by 18.

Nebraska: 58

Illinois: 76


Bob Patterson wrote on March 01, 2013 at 12:03 pm
Profile Picture

Illinois 81

Nebraska 66

smills89 wrote on March 01, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Illini 72

Nebraska 58

sunnyd503 wrote on March 01, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Now that my losing streak is over, guess I'll go back to regular picking. 

NCAA Bound Illini 78 Children of the Corn 64

Reillini wrote on March 02, 2013 at 9:03 am



One more boys and we go dancing. I believe they get that done today....

Go Illini

walko wrote on March 02, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Illini go dancing...

Illini 70 Cornballers 56

IlliniGradDad wrote on March 02, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Fighting Illini 79

Cornhuskers 66

IlliniGradMom wrote on March 02, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Illinois 72

Nebraska 63

aaeismacgychel wrote on March 02, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Illinois: 64

Nebraska: 52

UIBaton8 wrote on March 02, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Our boys are going to play an amazing game today.

Fighting Illini - 82

Cornhuskers - 65

- Side note, I really hope the women beat Purdue tomorrow.  How exciting it would be for both our teams to dance!

mbelcher wrote on March 02, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Nebraska 72

Illinois 71