Posts tagged "illini"

For Illini basketball, Big Ten Tournament is their NCAA Tournament

For Illini basketball, Big Ten Tournament is their NCAA Tournament
The Illini basketball team has one path to the NCAA Tournament; winning the Big Ten Tournament and receiving the automatic bid. A win over Michigan tomorrow morning would be great for their postseason resume, and give them higher seeding in the NIT. Winning in the semi-finals on Saturday would further show that this Illini basketball team is finishing the season strong (currently 5-1 in their last six road/neutral court games), but that still would not be enough to go dancing. It's run the table or else. So essentially this conference tournament is like a qualifier for the NCAA Tournament. If Illinois beats Michigan tomorrow (tip at 11 AM) and wins Saturday, then Sunday literally becomes a March Madness play-in game...

Talking Illini Football Recruiting, Signing Day with Fox Sports' Taylor Rooks

Talking Illini Football Recruiting, Signing Day with Fox Sports' Taylor Rooks
Yesterday was college football's National Signing Day and with it Illinois Football Coach Tim Beckman unveiled his latest recruiting class. Here to break down it with me is Illini recruiting expert Taylor Rooks of Fox Sports Next. We're going to find the bright side in Illini football recruiting. Yes, Rooks is talented enough to pull of such an accomplishment. Finding the silver lining in an otherwise bleak situation. During Beckman's Signing Day press conference he said something rather unintelligent about the city of Chicago. It was self-aggrandizing and took a direct shot at Northwestern and Pat Fitzgerald. This ended up overshadowing the other news on signing day as I received a very high volume of messages (texts, tweets, direct, emails etc) that all said essentially the same thing. Those messages derided the intelligence and vocational competency of Tim Beckman. And most of the messages said very little beyond that. It's understandable as Beckman's boastful Chicagoland comment deriding NU seems rather non-sensical. Recruiting service 24/7 has Colorado, Purdue, Illinois and Washington State as the lowest-rated 2014 classes from the power five leagues...

Twitter reacts to dark moment in Illinois basketball history

Twitter reacts to dark moment in Illinois basketball history

Illinois basketball won't be ranked again any time soon. They responded to being nationally ranked by getting DESTROYED at Wisconsin by 25 points, and then failing to play offense for 3/4 of a game that will go down as one of the worst losses in Illinois basketball history. It's certainly the worst loss of the John Groce era, and among the worst of 2010s Illinois basketball.

Conversely, it's the biggest win of the very very brief Chris Collins era at Northwestern. You wouldn't think a team with records and statistics that bad would actually beat a ranked team this year. But hey, this is Illinois basketball. Time to talk CBI and NIT, because 2013-14 Illinois basketball just suffered a tournament resume black eye from which they won't likely recover.

Here's some Illinois basketball fans and journalists and sports pundits reacting to the biggest win Collins has accomplished, and the death knell for the '13-14 Illinois basketball season
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Northwestern vs Illini Basketball Preview: Battle for Chicago Media Supremacy

Northwestern vs Illini Basketball Preview: Battle for Chicago Media Supremacy
I love it when my two press corps get together! Illini basketball vs Northwestern. It's going down...I'm yelling Timber. You better move, you better dance. Sorry, couldn't pass that up. It's just that NU and Illini basketball, and football are the two programs, along with the Chicago Bulls, that I cover regularly. Therefore, the once a year that they play each other is special to me as I "belong" to both press corps. The media room at this one is always a lot of fun for me. I even do a weekly segment on KOZN, 1620 The Zone Omaha, talking about Illinois and Northwestern. (UPDATE: NU to unveil new publicity-grabbing uniforms for this game) Sunday night, 6:30 PM at Welsh-Ryan Arena will mark the one time they meet this year in hoops. There might be a round two at the Big Ten Tournament in Indy. If it were up to me, I'd keep them meeting just once a year, and have it at the United Center each time...

Twenty Most Memorable Illinois Basketball games at the United Center

Twenty Most Memorable Illinois Basketball games at the United Center
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...

Northwestern Football Showed Tremendous Heart and Fight This Season

Northwestern Football Showed Tremendous Heart and Fight This Season
I have more respect and admiration for Northwestern football right now than I have previously had at any point in my life. I think even higher of the NU football program, as they finish the season 5-7, as I did when they were 4-0 and ranked #16 in the nation. Now, I've been very critical of NU this season. I've been extremely harsh on this team. Maybe I've been too critical, or undeservedly critical of Pat Fitzgerald and his Northwestern football program at times, but it's only because I believe they're a very solid program that should be treated with the exact same scrutiny as the Ohio States and Michigans of the world. And that 7 game losing streak was....to quote George Michael in "Careless Whisper," "there's no comfort in the truth, pain is all you'll find." I feel NU should be held to very high standards. And I write this 1,000 word essay just moments after they defeated my beloved Alma Mater, in the Land of Lincoln trophy game, so you know this expression comes from the heart. And to be fair, as harshly critical as I've been of Northwestern football, I've been even harder on my Illini, Illinois football coach Tim Beckman, and especially harsh on Illini Defensive Coordinator Tim Banks. And to show fairness and balance, I've also written a lot of fawning stuff about Northwestern football in 2013. I've written pulchritudinous pieces that purple propagandists (should) passionately promote. And perhaps no media member beat the drum to bring ESPN College Gameday to Evanston as loud as I did. And I challenge you to find anyone who covered the Gameday at Northwestern University experience with as much effort and zeal as I did. One topic I never addressed in 2013, positively or negatively, is the tremendous heart and resilient fight of this team. Now's the time...
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Northwestern and Illinois Alums in Sports Media: Ultimate List

Northwestern and Illinois Alums in Sports Media: Ultimate List
No one hates Northwestern. No one possibly could. Well, the main purple flag waver in sports media today also happens to be the most hated man in sports media, but that’s a different issue. You can’t hate the school just because D-Money (CC @TheGoodDrJim) went there. Well, University of Illinois grads do in fact hate Northwestern. You can see it in the way Illini people schadenfreude the train wreck that is the 2013 Northwestern football season. I’ve told my people not to take joy in what’s happened at NU. (The local and national media declaring Northwestern BCS bound and Pat Fitzgerald the next Nick Saban, only to see it come crashing all down into a college football season that will have no bowl appearance). So where does the hate come from? The “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” marketing campaign. All Big Ten alumni bases in Chicago took offense to it, none more so than the University of Illinois. From there, the University of Illinois Alumni Association took a couple shots at Northwestern and then things took off from there! When Tim Beckman took over the Illini program, he put up a big N Cat logo with a line through it in the Illini football meeting room. Then he made his team slogan W.I.N. or W.I.N.T. “Whatever is needed Today.” After Northwestern had “W.I.N. What’s Important Now” for many years. So we have a legitimate rivalry on our hands. And the rivalry game will be played Saturday, in Champaign, 2:30 on Big Ten Network. Northwestern is 3.5 point favorites. It’s the LOL Bowl, the Land of Lincoln trophy or LOL trophy game. And given how both of these teams are playing, the LOL contest will certainly have you ROTFL or LMAO. Here’s my game preview and prediction at this link. But for this post I’ve listed as many Northwestern and Illinois alums in the national and local sports media as I'm aware of...

BTN Special Glorifies 2005 Illini: Return to Glory in Store?

BTN Special Glorifies 2005 Illini: Return to Glory in Store?
The BTN Elite Series showcases the 2004-2005 Illini tonight! The latest episode of the Big Ten Network Elite series - focusing on the 2004-05 Illinois basketball team - makes its TV debut on Wednesday night immediately after the Illinois-Valparaiso game (approximately 8:30 p.m.). The 60-minute program will take fans through the season from beginning to end and features new interviews with Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Roger Powell, and James Augustine among others...

2013 Big Ten Basketball Media Day Helps Me Through Football Season

2013 Big Ten Basketball Media Day Helps Me Through Football Season
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??)...
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Chicago a Marketing Success for the Illini; return in the works?

Chicago a Marketing Success for the Illini; return in the works?
"Our presence in Chicago is important to us, we are the state team, we need to bring ourselves closer to them for marketing purposes," said Illini Wide Receivers Coach Mike Bellamy- a former Chicago Bears player, native of the SouthSide (prepped at Kenwood Academy) and Illini wideout who played with Jeff George in Champaign. "And we have a large alumni base in Chicago and sometimes they can't make it down, so why not bring the game to them?" Bellamy continued. On Saturday, the Illini were competing for sports fan interest against the White Sox, NASCAR Nationwide, Northwestern, a Fire match and the BMW Classic. And they still drew 47,312 fans to the lakefront in Chicago. That attendance is higher than what Illinois drew at home for their first two games this season; and a solid figure when you consider how very low expectations were heading into this year...