Despite today's setback home loss to Iowa, Northwestern basketball coach Chris Collins is playing spoiler to his Big Ten conference rivals. The "spoiler role" is a shopworn sports media cliche, yes I know that.
However, it also truly what the ‘Cats are doing right now. The Wildcats inflicted critical blows to the NCAA Tournament hopes of the Indiana Hoosiers, (tournament resume/chances) Illinois Fighting Illini (don't feel they have a NCAA resume worth writing about right now, hence no link)and Purdue Boilermakers (updated tourney profile). And that’s all just in the past two weeks.
Here's what the tournament chances and resumes of each of those three traditional B1G powers looks like now: Purdue, Illinois, Indiana. In his debut year of transition, Chris Collins has beaten all three of these programs, who are regular annual attendees to the big dance. As it stands today, the Illini, Hoosiers and Boilermakers are in the same boat as the Wildcats. They all need to either a.) very improbably win about 90% of their remaining games or b.) win the Big Ten Tournament in order qualify for the NCAA Tournament...
Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo is the dean of Big Ten head coaches. As the longest tenured and most accomplished leader in the league he can get away with saying very interesting things during his press conferences. Most players and coaches cannot. They play it vanilla and stay safe most of the time. Tom Izzo has done so much for MSU that even if he decides to rock the boat a little, he'll be fine.
Last night, Izzo's Spartans won 54-40 at Northwestern and after the game Tom Izzo praised NU's rookie head coach Chris Collins; who's very media savvy in his own way...
While games played at the United Center count as a "neutral site" in the Illinois basketball media guide, for the Illinois basketball program the UC is a home away from home. Saturday's contest against UIC marks the 47th game the Illini will play there, dating back '94-'95. Illinois basketball owns an all-time record of 34-12 (.739) at the home of the Chicago Bulls.
This is a homecoming game for many Illinois basketball players, as half of the UI roster features players from Chicagoland in Tracy Abrams, Nnanna Egwu, Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate, (all from Chicago), along with walk-on Mike LaTulip (Arlington Heights) and transfers (who are currently sitting out) Darius Paul (Gurnee, little brother of Brandon Paul) and Ahmad Starks (Chicago).
The Illini played three games at the United Center last season, barely squeaking by a very terrible Auburn team in December and Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament opening round on a Brandon Paul buzzer beater, before falling to No. 3 Indiana in the conference tournament quarterfinals.
Here is the complete list of Illinois basketball games at the United Center, in chronological order. For ten of the most memorable games in Illinois basketball history at the UC (in no particular order, and these are most memorable, not "best," it doesn't have to be a Illinois basketball win to make the list...
The Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis did not disappoint. It lived up to the hype and more. While the ACC title game was a boring blowout, the Pac 12 title game wasn't all that exciting, the Big Ten championship delivered. The SEC Title game was exciting. But no one played defense in it.
Yes Michigan State football is headed to it’s first Rose Bowl in 26 years. Just like I predicted on Tuesday, they won by exactly ten. The Spartans upset the #2 Ohio StateBuckeyes who were 5.5 point favorites in what was a “game of runs,” to put it in college basketball terms. After all, Tom Izzo was there and he brought his MSU hoops team with him.
Michigan State scored the first 17 points of the game, OSU the next 24, and Michigan State football finished it off with the next 17, to prevail 34-24...
The 2013 B1G Championship game in Indianapolis Saturday night will change national media perceptions of the B1G conference. A meeting between two extremely strong teams, it will show that the league isn't quite as down as people say it is.
This B1G Championship game is better than 90% of the bowl games out there. It's a better match-up on paper than about half of the BCS games you end up with. Both participants in the 2013 B1G Championship would likely handle back-to-back BCS bound Northern Illinois in a head-to-head match-up.
You have national college football implications on the line in Lucas Oil Field.
BCS National title hopes and Rose Bowl determination is at stake. So as much flak and critique as the B1G receives, and it’s very well deserved at times, you can’t ask for a bigger and better B1G Championship game than #2 Ohio State vs #10 Michigan State.
And really how weak is the B1G?
Yes, it’s far below the SEC. And the league looked terrible in the head to head match-ups with the Pac 12 in September, but I still say the league is very much on par with the ACC or Big 12. It’s not that bad.
And this title game is like Ron Burgundy, "kind of a big deal." So let's look at why the B1G gets kicked around by the national media, and how the 2013 B1G Championship game could change that...
Big Ten Basketball Media Day is literally just hours away now. THANK GOD. It helps me. This idea gets me through football season. Big Ten Basketball Media Day helps me, by acting as a healing mechanism. It's unofficially opening day, signaling hope anew; and rescue from the despair of football season.
Big Ten basketball season cannot get here fast enough. Especially for someone like me, who covers two college football teams, Northwestern and Illinois who are #10 and #11 in everybody’s conference power rankings. Then again college basketball season is always something that never gets here soon enough for me. I prefer college hoops over college football. And I should; I attended two college hoops power houses (University of Illinois '99, Michigan State MBA). College basketball, not the NBA or NFL or college football "is my bag baby."
I love college hoops as much as I despise Facebook Fan pages. I like to watch college basketball as much as I like to ignore invitations to "Like" Facebook Fan Pages. I enjoy watching March Madness as much as I enjoy never clicking on mommy-blogs. (Seriously, is the mommy-blogger craze over yet??)...
I can’t remember the last time I used the phrase student-athletes in my writing.
I never consciously used it; and if it was said in a press conference, I simply used a different quote. I made an effort to not implement it into my finished product. I used to think the phrase student-athletes was just a mindless corporate euphemism, but in fact, it’s something much more sinister.
I never said the term student-athletes because we all know the stories of star college basketball and college football players: not going to class, getting their grades fixed, majoring in basket-weaving etc. Like the Ohio State backup QB infamously tweeted: “I didn’t come here to play school, I came her to play football.”
The recently released EPIX documentary "Schooled: the high price of college sports” features the scandal that went on within the North Carolina Tar Heels academic services...
The top ten least favorite sportscasters list was so “discussion-provoking” that I decided to do a ten best sportscasters list. The one mistake I made on the worst list was not dividing it up into two parts: local sportscasters and national sportscasters.
There were too many omissions.
Even with this list now broken into two installments, there will still be plenty of omissions. So feel free to add in those who you believe were left out in the comments section. And of course, the sportscasters list is broken down as if it were a basketball team format. Basketball being the second best game ever invented.
No broadcast reporters who work for a network owned by a team or a league are eligible for this list, as those people are not journalists. You can’t be a journalist when you report on the very same entity that pays your salary. However, play-by-play and color analysts are eligible.
The national sportscasters list will hopefully be published by the end of the week...
In 1995, the Northwestern Wildcats took the college football world by storm, their unexpected rise made them more than a sports story. NU became a pop culture story. After reaching their first Rose Bowl in close to 50 years, and having their first winning season in multiple decades, that team was like the NBC sitcom Friends; a mid ’90s feel-good tale.
They centered around a tailback named Darnell Autry, who finished in the top five of Heisman Trophy voting.
Big Ten Network’s new series, Forever B1G, debuts 6:30 PM CDT Friday. The eight-episode series is basically a “where are they now,” and it features 16 former Big Ten stars, including Michigan quarterback Drew Henson, Michigan State’s Maurice Ager, Northwestern’s Darnell Autry, Indiana’s A.J. Guyton, Minnesota’s Willie Burton, former Penn State running back D.J. Dozier and more...
I know it’s hard to think about college basketball when a.) it’s so freakin hot outside and b.) college football appetizers are served tomorrow night, with the main course just two days after that. However, the Big Ten announced its 2013-14 basketball conference schedule, with at least 49 games to be televised by CBS Sports or an ESPN Network. Remaining network assignments will be announced at a later date.
Obviously, this will be highly subject to change, depending on how the teams perform, but if you want to grab your day planner and write down what you want to do in February and March, yes on a Late August afternoon, I won’t stop you.
I’m certainly not expecting you to do that, but I won’t stop you either. Let’s look at where the Illini and Northwestern fit in...
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and ChicagoNow.
He's been a featured guest in dozens of media outlets including The History Channel. His work has been cited in hundreds of publications including the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.