PSU thoughts, standings, & Nebraska predictions
Some people wait a lifetime (or in this case, 36 days)…
It was about time to shake things up, and it paid dividends for John Groce, as his two promoted freshmen each registered career highs. Given that an NCAA tournament berth is looking less likely, I see no reason not to continue playing the freshmen, provided that they continue to give a stellar effort. On the whole, it was good to see the Illini find that grit to pull this one out when it was close late. That intangible is something we knew was there but was missing during the losing streak. Now…let’s never speak of that 1974 season again.
Afterwards, Coach Groce talked about the rationale behind the lineup change…
Looking at the numbers, we had an interesting spreadsheet for the first time in a while. Of the 22 this game, picks were split right down the middle, with three of you and yours truly missing the margin of victory by just one point. Ehsfan was the only one to pick a PSU blowout and comes in last. Overall, walker’s PSU pick causes him to fall out of the lead. Illinibadger has replaced him, with myself nipping at his/her heels and several others within striking distance at 9-2. The rest of the standings saw some shuffling as well.
Now…time for some #Nebrasketball!
I watched both Husker games this week, and if I squinted and had the volume on mute, I probably would have thought it was two different teams. One day it’s a blowout loss, another it’s a solid second half performance leading the squad’s first road win of the year. In the latter contest, the Huskers’ offense looked decent, with guys driving to the rim with confidence, but the shots weren’t falling early. Let’s hope that happens again Wednesday, as the Huskers have played well this year (10-1) in their new arena.
My prediction: Illinois 69, Nebraska 60
Want to also give a quick shoutout to Nebraska Coach Tim Miles, who seems like a straight up cool guy…regardless of what you think of his coaching ability. He’s not afraid to call a spade a spade (game notes refer to this season as “rebuilding”), and the players have bought in to his system. And he’s a community guy too. Remember earlier this season when he helped a fan propose to his girlfriend?
Other items from the notebook:
- An interesting tidbit from Loren Tate’s interview on today’s radio pregame show: Penn State men’s basketball is at best the sixth most popular team on campus, behind football (obvious reasons), volleyball (five national titles in last seven seasons), wrestling (ranked number one), women’s soccer (15 league titles in the last 16 seasons), and women’s basketball (top 10 ranking). Not sure you can find many other schools where that hierarchy holds true.
- I’m not even sure how significant this is, but I find it worth sharing. With Iowa’s win over Michigan, as of 3 PM Saturday, every team in the Big Ten had beaten a team that was ahead of them in standings (except the league leader, of course). Makes me look forward to attending the B1G Tournament even more.
- Anyone following the Olympics? I’ve always been a big fan of international competitions (Olympics, World Cup, etc.), but all the negative press out of Sochi has made it tough for me to really get into the games this go around. One thing I am looking forward to, though, is watching former Illini Aja Evans compete in bobsled. I covered Aja when she was on the track team here, and it’s neat to see how she’s transformed from the microphone shy college athlete to someone who’s not afraid to try to crossover into a different sport.
Coming up Wednesday: Nebraska thoughts, standings, & Ohio State predictions
[Kelly audio via RCA Records, hot tub party photo via elevenwarriors.com, Miles audio via BJRajiDance on YouTube, Olympic photo via reddit]