Illini Survive Ugly, Never-Ending 2OT Conference Opener vs. Gophers

Illini Survive Ugly, Never-Ending 2OT Conference Opener vs. Gophers

One of my all time favorite The Simpsons quotes: “Mr. Simpson, this is the biggest case of false advertising since my suit against the film the never ending story” –Lionel Hutz

The legendary lawyer character played by the late, great Phil Hartman refers to a 1984 film with a running time of 94 minutes in the American version. Illinois escaping 81-72 in 2 OT over the Minnesota Golden Gophers ran about 2 hours, 40 minutes. It was a game in which no one seemed to want to take it until finally the Illini dominated the final 4 minutes of the final OT.


Now that it’s over I still can’t tell you if I just watched two 7-11 in Big Ten play teams slug it out with each other, or two 11-7 in conference play teams. That’s how unpredictable the Big Ten is.

Minnesota had a chance to ice it when they were up 64-62 with 15.9 left to play, but Julian Welch (the Gophers leading scorer at 9.9 ppg) missed the front end of a one-in-one and Meyers Leonard made both free throws at the other end to tie it.

And later in the second overtime Leonard had a spin and score that just screamed…well, if you don’t own any Meyers Leonard NBA Draft stock, as your broker, I advise a STRONG BUY. Yes, Leonard is probably as good as gone to the pros after this year, as he put up another double double (20 points, 11 rebounds.)

The Illini have looked absolutely vulnerable in their last four home wins (St. Bonaventure, Coppin St., Cornell and this one) but they are 9-0 at Assembly Hall for the third straight year nonetheless. They’re also 28-2 in the last 30 versus Minnesota, and they’ve only lost at home to the Gophers once since 1996.

Maybe Illinois needed Crandall Head in this one? (Well, probably not as he didn’t do much during his Illini career) However, the announcement of his leaving the program today could have been a huge distraction.

Prior to this game I wondered why MN had a RPI of 17. It seemed absurd given how easy their schedule was, but maybe Minnesota is better than we thought?

Whether they’re better or Illinois is worse I have a feeling every Illini loss will be narrow, and that every win will be ugly and grindy from here on out. If you’re an Illini fan with stress-induced health issue, hypertension, cardiac disease etc. I advise you to consult your doctor before deciding to keep watching this season.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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