What do you remember about February 9th, 1974? It was a brisk, but lovely Saturday. Richard Nixon was was in the White House. The Love Unlimited Orchestra was at the top of the charts. And Travis Tritt was celebrating a birthday. It’s also the last time that the Illini basketball team was facing an eight game losing streak.
And now fast forward to the present day, and here we are again. To me, tonight’s first half was more telling than the second. The outside-inside game wasn’t working for the home team, so it went for more long range shots. When those shots were rushed, they didn’t go in. When they weren’t, they did, but it wasn’t enough to counter Wisconsin’s sharpshooters. I thought the Illini big men did a good job of shutting down Frank Kaminsky, but Nigel Hayes’ 14 points made up for that.
Coach Groce highlighted the good, the bad, and the ugly afterwards…
To the prognosticatin' portion...
Seventeen of 21 pickers got another win, with illiniearl nailing the margin of victory. He also gets kudos for being the only one to submit a correct Superbowl pick, athough he and the other three big game pickers did not see the Seattle blowout coming. On the hoops side of things, walker remains in the lead overall, with plenty of you within striking distance.
On to the next one…
Pat Chambers’ crew is as of this writing in unchartered territory (his words) having won three in a row for the first time since 2009. Things are clicking due to a combination of changes (e.g. Graham Woodward inserted into the starting lineup) and progression of players (e.g. Jordan Dickerson playing well when Donovan Jack is in foul trouble). The key to this upcoming game should be no secret – stop Newbill and Frazier, stop the Lions. The Illini are weathered, but I think that’s an order they can handle. The road atmosphere will not be a detriment either. And even though most recent meetings between these two have been close, I see the Illini rebounding in a big way this weekend. The team, like its fans, are fed up with losing.
My prediction: Illinois 73, Penn State 69
Coming up Sunday: PSU thoughts, standings, & Nebraska predictions
[Nixon photo via fanpop.com, lion photo via Penn State University]