Minnesota thoughts, standings, & Nebraska predictions
And on this soggy hump day, the basketball gods smiled upon the blue jerseys and said, “Let’s let Illinois pull the upset this time.” And so it was…
You hear coaches and the media alike talking about needing to have everyone “step up” to come out with a win. As much as I hate the phrase, pretty much everyone did that for the visiting team tonight. Nunn and Hill are proving they belong in marquee roles (doing a lot of it from long range), and Egwu is continuing to hustle to silence critics from earlier in the year. Big credit as well goes to the Illini defense, which seemed to have an answer for most of what the home team threw out offensively. Props on that one in particular go to Coach Parham, who according to my colleague Marcus Jackson, had the scout tonight. The perfect storm of circumstances came together on the Minnesota side as well, as the Gophers were not able to hang on to the ball and suffered from cold shooting spurts (the two keys, I might add, that I highlighted last blog).
Once again, in the interest of time, I'm giving you all of the postgame Groce interview...
And down the stretch them come in the pick ‘em competition…
Not sure if buckhunter2’s pick today was legit or gimmicky, but it paid off as he/she was one of two to correctly pick the victor among our 17 pickers. The rest of us didn’t fare too well. Interesting to note that my colleague Mike Goebel was one point away from picking both point totals correct. Overall, illinibadger dodged a bullet and remains in the lead. That’s because buckhunter2 was more than one game out of first, so he/she being the only one to pick up a win today doesn’t change much.
(BTW…I apologize for the constant errors in updating the numbers. Please continue to correct me.)
I really shouldn’t be joking…because Tim Miles has his guys playing their best basketball at the right time. The team (Benny Parker and the recently-promoted-to-starter David Rivers in particular) has cut down on defensive mistakes in its current winning streak, holding teams to around 53 points on 36% shooting on average. Stats like that have Husker fans dreaming of March. Coach Miles isn’t having it, though.
And with the “Us always” slogan on the warm up shirts, this season it’s paying to be selfish in Lincoln. But wait…here comes the swerve.
My prediction: Illinois 62, Nebraska 60
- Put tonight’s Ohio State-Northwestern game (see below) in the box score hall of fame.
- Guess we can’t accuse Bill Murray of being a fair weather fan anymore.
- A programming plug: A really good high school basketball matchup comes your way Friday night on WDWS as St. Joseph-Ogden takes on St. Thomas More. STM is having a great year in its own right, and according to News-Gazette prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner, the SJO junior varsity team could hang with some varsity squads. And speaking of STM, its girls squad appear to be an unstoppable force once again. If it advances to the state finals next weekend, DWS will carry those games.
Coming up Wednesday: Nebraska thoughts, standings, & Michigan State predictions
[Nunn audio via BTN, Bruce audio via Universal Pictures, Husker fan photo via KZOZ, Miles audio via huskers.com, box score via ESPN]