Nebraska Thoughts, Standings, & Iowa Predictions

Nebraska Thoughts, Standings, & Iowa Predictions

The way you break down this game probably depends on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist.  A glass half empty guy would point out the porous Illini defense which led to monster games from Talley and Gallegos…and would say that this should have been a game that the Illini handled easily.  A glass half full guy would say a win is a win…and a win in spite of the aforementioned performances…and a breakout game for Myke Henry.

Me?  I’m in between.  Coach Groce has been high on the team’s defensive effort in the second half of the season, so you wouldn’t expect any missteps this far in.  But at the same time, this one isn’t setting off the alarm bells for me.  It’s the bigger picture that matters.  We’ve seen this team go through peaks and valleys, and today was just a minor valley where you hopped off your burro for lunch.  Or something…I don’t know…here’s coach…

Blog PhotoWLSILLINI takes top prediction honors this game with a perfect RSDT.  And the majority of the rest of the pack who picked Illinois had pretty good picks compared to some recent games with RSDTs in the single digits.  We had 41 pickers this game, including three new pickers which boosts out season total to 84 pickers.  I’m very pleased to see that type of participation!  Overall, not too much movement in the standings.  With just two games left and 27 RSDT points to make up, penniless will probably need to get a pick right and have walko get a pick wrong to get that end of the season prize.

Two more left…let’s keep chuggin’ along…

I should point out right away that Iowa is my most disliked Big Ten team…and my second Blog Photomost disliked team overall behind Mizzou  And as I wrote this, I tried to come up with a definitive reason why, but I couldn’t.  It’s a little bit Bruce Pearl.  It’s a little bit having friends who are obnoxious Iowa fans.  And I’m sure I could think of a few more things, but it’s not worth my time.  OK, off the soapbox.

The Hawkeyes Squakeyes certainly will be the more motivated team on Tuesday, as they’ll be looking to move closer toward a possible NCAA Tournament berth at 18-10, 7-8 B1G.  The team has a couple resume wins over Wisconsin and Minnesota, both at home, and played Michigan State down to the wire at home as well.  In fact, the majority of their Big Ten games were close, whether they ended up being a win or a loss.  So once again, a fast start might go a long way for the Illini in this one.  It’ll help as well if Iowa comes out cold shooting, as the team is 15-1 when shooting at a better clip than its opponent.  Roy Marble is a big part of that, averaging 19 PPG over the last five games.

As I’ve done in previous blogs, I want to take a sidebar to talk about the opposing team’s (a) coach and (b) arena.  So…Fran McCaffery…is he the guy to turn the program around?  I think the jury is still out.  In fact, it’s a similar situation as the Illini and John Groce.  McCaffery had great success with a mid-major and has struggled a little bit out of the game in the big leagues.  An NCAA Tournament berth this year would go a long way, but in the end a big factor will be if Fran can recruit guys for his system and have success with those guys…and if he can do that before the higher ups say “time’s up.”  We know one thing for sure though…the man would beat George Bush in a shoe dodging contest any day.

Blog PhotoIn regards to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, it may be the one thing associated with Iowa that I actually like.  I like to describe it as a crater, with the concourse on the highest level and the seats and court sunk down.  So when you walk in, you have to walk DOWN to your seats rather than up, no matter where your seats are.  It’s got in the round seating like the Assembly Hall, which I’m a fan of, and with a capacity of just 15,000, it’s a semi-intimate atmosphere.  I’m basing all this, by the way, on my visit to the arena before it underwent a renovation, so I assume things are even better now.  That visit, by the way, coincided with another legendary invasion by the Orange Krush…one that resulted in an e-mail being sent to Iowa students with the subject “Were you embarrassed by the Orange Krush?”.  I also got to sit by Loren Tate on press row for that game, so doubly awesome.

Pick-wise, this is another game I pegged the Illini to win a few blogs ago (spoiler alert:  I picked a loss to OSU next weekend).  It’s all of matter of what transpired since then that would change the margin of victory.  The Illini can’t afford many missteps, as the Hawkeyes like to put up the points at home, but I’m still comfortable with…

MY PREDICTION:  Illinois 76, Iowa 70

Your picks are due by tipoff on Tuesday.  I’ll sing the same refrain as before…if you are in the group that is still in the running for the end of the year prize, make sure not to miss either of the final two picks.  And the rest of you should continue picking, too, because this whole thing is darn fun, right?  And looking a bit ahead, I’ll roll out a new blog after the Iowa game either on Tuesday or Wednesday…then will roll out the final blog of the season on Sunday.  Then we’ll break til the fall.

Blog PhotoOther random tidbits…

  • Today’s game, as I’m sure you know by now, paid homage to the 50th birthday of the Assembly Hall.  Which got me to thinking about my top memories at the Hall…

5.  The Eric Gordon game on 2/7/2008.  Out of control atmosphere?  Maybe.  But definitely the most raucous crowd I’ve been a part of.

4.  The Michigan State game on 2/6/2010.  Really the whole day was great, starting with College Gameday in the morning…something that every college basketball fan should experience.

3.  This year’s Indiana game, simply because the outcome and the way it happened were so unexpected.  And as I brought up in a previous blog, it was fun because I got to witness an upset of number one with my eyes and not my ears this time.

2.  The Michigan State game on 2/6/2001.  The Krush stormed the court after the upset, and a friendly usher let a wide-eyed 11 year-old me sneak down onto the court and into the melee.  I somehow made my way to Lucas Johnson and, with the help of some college kids, hoisted him up on our shoulders.  As an impressionable youngster, that made my year.

1.  The Minnesota game on 1/29/05.  Not because of the game itself, but because of all the alumni that were back in town to celebrate 100 years of Illini basketball.  Getting to meet legends like Lou Henson, Stephen Bardo, Gene Vance, Dave Downey, and so many others cemented my desire to attend this great university.

                What are your favorite Hall memories?

  • A few blogs ago I pointed out the last time the Illini women made the Big Dance and the men didn’t.  That’s obviously not looking likely now, but how about the women having a better seed than the men?  The last time that happened was 1998, when Lon Kruger’s Big Ten champs were a five seed and Theresa Grentz’s women’s squad was a three seed en route to a Sweet Sixteen finish.  Right now, ESPN projects the men as a 10 seed and the women as a 9 seed, so it’s close.  It’s all speculation, I know, but it’s fun to think about.  If anything, it shows how very far the women’s team has come in one year.  It’s great to see that the seniors are having a meaningful season in their final go-around.
  • Saw what you will about Joe Paterno’s legacy, but one thing we know for sure is that he doesn’t let players forget about their unpaid debts (see photo above).

-Tim

COMING UP ON TUESDAY OR WEDNESDAY:  Iowa Thoughts, Standings, & OSU Predictions

[C-H photo via The Gazette, AP audio via iPeteCTorg on Youtube, JP photo via CBS Sports]

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krervin2 wrote on March 02, 2013 at 9:03 pm

ILLINOIS 70

Iowa 60

dhsieh wrote on March 02, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I think ROY Marble ran out of eligibility 20 years ago

sunnyd503 wrote on March 03, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I think his actual first name is Roy. He goes by his middle name Devyn. I suppose I could Google but what fun is that?

Bwp 5P wrote on March 03, 2013 at 8:03 am

Not changing my Strategy.............

 

Iowa 68

ILLINI 64

 

Just a few more chances to make me wrong guys!

 

GO ILLINI!

Bigdawgg13 wrote on March 05, 2013 at 11:03 am

Iowa 77 

Eye EL EL 63

Green Shirt wrote on March 03, 2013 at 8:03 am

Illinois     75


Iowa       72

penniless wrote on March 03, 2013 at 9:03 am

Good God,Corn People made us look bad,on our court as well.OSU my favorite dis-like,FB,BB and anything OSU does.Sad to say,  Iowa   77   Ilini  73   No more  Wins this year and still the future is bright,thanks to Groce BB.

sunnyd503 wrote on March 03, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Question for you Tim, was that 2001 game the first Paint the Hall Orange game? I think it was. That was one of my fav games too. The atmosphere was electric and that helped solidify our B10 title. Another fond memory from around that time was when Frank Willams hit the buzzer beater against OSU, or when Bradford beat Wisky on a last second shot. Or when the came from 21 down to beat Seton Hall and Bradford tied the consecutive 3s record in OT. good times to be in college.

i grew up near the Quad Cities so I learned to hate the Hawkeyes. But they haven't been as big of a rival as they once were. I might have to go with Indiana or MSU for bball. But I really can't stand Michigan football and that sort of carries over into all sports. 

Anyhow, I've done too much typing on my phone so I'm afraid I'll lose this entry.Iowa has really impressed me at times this year, and I think they get us at home.

piegoneyes 72 Bobcats West 71

Tim Ditman wrote on March 03, 2013 at 2:03 pm
Profile Picture

Correct, the 2001 game was the first PTHO game.  The Seton Hall game just barely missed my top five.  That was my introduction to the golden years of Illini basketball.

Mike Goebel wrote on March 03, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I think Illinois matches up really well against the Hawkeyes. I'll go Illini 70, Iowa 54

wincer_85 wrote on March 03, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I have a bad feeling about the Iowa game. I have seen iowa play multiple times and I have come away impressed the majority of those times. Aaron White is going to be tough for us to stop. I think he is too tall and quick for Sam and think he is too bulky for Nanna. We'll see. I've also been impressed with their freshman guard: Reggie clemmons. He is quick and can get to the basket easily. Keeping him out of the lane will be a problem. Plus, Iowa needs this game more than we do. I think Iowa wins its final 2 games and maybe nabs a W in the BTT, and sneaks their way into the NCAA tourny, Getting 8 of the 12 teams in the tourny would be really good for the Big Ten.

 

Illinois: 62

Iowa: 67

illiniphil85 wrote on March 04, 2013 at 8:03 am

Illini 68

Hogeyes 65

nndsmom wrote on March 04, 2013 at 8:03 am

I predict a squeaker:


IL - 72


IA - 71

74illini wrote on March 04, 2013 at 9:03 am

 

I was extremely disappointed in the defensive effort that lacked in the Nebraska game, then magically at the end of the game you see a whole new meaning of the words "pressure defense".  I cannot grasp why we decided to play so lazy for the first 35 minutes of that game.  This is something that should not be occurring this late in the season.  Do that against the Hawkeyes and we will lose by double digits easily.  I know we have won six of our last seven but the last two games especially have been a prelude to what this team is I believe. I see us not putting a full 40 minutes together against Iowa and it will cost us both Tuesday night and again against Ohio State.  To fall to 8-10 and starring at a possible must win first round BIG TEN TOURNAMENT GAME is looking increasingly likely unless we get our defensive butts in gear.  It's all about defense and for this team to even have a chance to be successful we must bring 150% every game.  Also a statistic everyone needs to hear.  Iowa has only lost twice at home this year to Indiana and Michigan State.  I just don't see any reason why we will join that list.

Sam McLaurin spraining his ankle will likely hurt us.  He is a big impact player on the defensive side of the ball and has always been a guy in the right spots at the right time.  Depsite his lack of athleticism and ability to score in a high output, he is one of our best players when it comes to the intangibles. 

Iowa 68

Illini 59

 

stumblefoot wrote on March 04, 2013 at 10:03 am

The fellas want to finish strong and prove they are deserving of a good Tourney seed.

Illini - 82

Hawks - 79

mbelcher wrote on March 04, 2013 at 10:03 am

Iowa  75


Illinois  67

buckhunter2 wrote on March 04, 2013 at 12:03 pm

ILLINI   77

IOWA   73

PZervakis10 wrote on March 04, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Illini 68

Iowa 59

BleedOandB wrote on March 04, 2013 at 1:03 pm

The game means more to me than most. 2 reasons...1) going to the B10 Tourney Friday night second session. Illini need to be 6 or 7 seed to accomplish this. If they do not beat Iowa we get a lower seed. 2) My best friend is a HUGE Iowa fan ( I still dont know why I am friends with him) and with there being no IOWA ILLINI football games in the immediate future this has huge bragging rights. I need this game to much so I hope this works out...


Illini 72


Iowa 69

Railsplitter wrote on March 04, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Illini need this one but, Iowa has to have it . Oh well, ILLINI  69 IOWA Albatross 66

Andy wrote on March 04, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Flip a coin! I can see this one going either way, just depends on which team shows up on either side? I hope Illinois wins...Go ILLINI

jruss62 wrote on March 04, 2013 at 6:03 pm

Illini - 68


Iowa - 64

Reillini wrote on March 04, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Iowa-72

Illini-63

I hope IM wrong but we didnt not look sharp on Sat.

Go Illini

 

tmh2196 wrote on March 04, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Illini 67

Iowa 54

  I think that the Illini are in the big dance no matter what now, but they still have not played very well the last two games.  That stops this game, and Illini win BIG.  

walker wrote on March 04, 2013 at 9:03 pm

IOWA  64  ILLINI  59

Bob Patterson wrote on March 05, 2013 at 12:03 am
Profile Picture

Illinois 72

Iown 68

illiniearl wrote on March 05, 2013 at 3:03 am

My gut tells me it will be a loss, but it's been a long and difficult climb for me to move up to where I'm at in the prediction standings and I have as good a shot as ever with this game to move up a couple spots.    Illini, I know it's a long bus ride to Iowa City, but don't fail me now!


Illinois 67


I-mbeciles O-ut W-andering A-round 65   


in  O.T.?

basketball junkie1123 wrote on March 05, 2013 at 6:03 am

Sunday I learn that my crsytal ball was broken.  It was Wisconsin that the seniors cried and the fans just walked out.


Iowa 0


Illinois 0


Snow wins it all.


Soaring hawkeys 75


slumping Illni 74


Hope I am wrong

Eric 22 wrote on March 05, 2013 at 7:03 am

This is going to be a tough match up.  Iowa has lost a lot of games against good teams in the last two minutes.  Can the Illini stay ahead of these guys....I just don't think so but I have to go with my Orange Kool Aid.

Ill-71  Running Hawks-70

touchdown_illinois wrote on March 05, 2013 at 8:03 am

 

Illini 74

Chokeyes 71

Go Illini!!!i

JamesB wrote on March 05, 2013 at 12:03 pm

No way, no day.  Never.


Iowa - 69


Illinois - 66

corvus27 wrote on March 05, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Iowa 69

Illinois 62

aaeismacgychel wrote on March 05, 2013 at 4:03 pm

This is a must win game for the Hawkeyes and a back against the wall game for them if they want any chance at making the tourney without winning the BTT (they'd likely still have to make the finals, but it's better than the alternative). Illini I think will play a solid game as well, and they've played quite well on nights when the Blackhawks play, so I think they might actually come out and shock Iowa early before holding on for dear life at the end.

Illinois: 74
Iowa: 72

In a fun one.