Maryland is the standard Illini basketball should aspire to


maryland terrapins illini basketball melo trimble

It wasn’t very long ago that Maryland basketball and Illini basketball were programs on equal footing. About a decade ago the Terrapins had a legitimate rivalry with Duke; just like Illinois had a legitimate rivalry with Michigan State. Both the Illini and the Terps had established themselves as peers with their respective conference’s traditional powers.

Terrapin basketball and Illini basketball are not peers this season, as Illinois is a #3 seed in the Not Important Tournament and Maryland is a #4 seed in the real tournament. (This is all the more maddening given that Illinois won the only meeting between the two schools this year). I’ve been saying for years that Maryland is/was the ACC Illini, but then they went and joined the conference and now re-established themselves this year.

The Terps are the Jennifer Love Hewitt of college basketball: arrived in the ’80s, broke through in the ’90s, peaked in the early ’00s, did absolutely nothing for awhile, and recently made a comeback.

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Mike Thomas is Illini sports biggest problem; not Groce or Beckman


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Illini fans have the pitchforks out right now; as they should.

Most of that anger is currently directed towards Illinois basketball Coach John Groce, but the main target should be Athletic Director Mike Thomas instead. It’s understandable that the angst is more so for Groce, but that doesn’t include the bigger picture. The team failed to show up today for their traditional early tip-off in the Big Ten Tournament.

No one under the age of 85 likes being slotted in the 11 a.m. game, but the Illini should be used to it at this point- they’ve only been in the morning #8 vs #9 game four years straight.

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For Illini basketball it’s simple: beat Wisconsin Friday or bust


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There’s not a lot of patience right now within Illini basketball nation. There’s three main reasons for that. First, you have the reality this team does not close games. They are like Shelly Levine in Glengarry Glen Ross, can’t close. That consistent tendency to blow double digit leads in games has led to their inability to close the deal on a NCAA Tournament berth.

In our latest bracketology, we have Illinois in the “first four out.”

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John Groce is not an upgrade over Bruce Weber


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It’s hard to decide to which Illinois basketball story line has been overdone more during the John Groce era:

1.) NCAA/NIT “will they or won’t they?” bubble status

2.) Illinois finishes second (or sometimes third) on a 5-star recruit

Number one is the DJ Snake “Turn down for what” of Illini basketball, with #2 being Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries.” We’ve heard both of these songs WAY more than any human being should. Don’t blame the media though.

Like Fox News Channel pretends to claim:

“We Report. You Decide.”

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Illini basketball: the Taylor Swift of college hoops


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On paper, this Illini basketball team appears to be somewhere between mediocre to pretty good; exactly like the music of Taylor Swift. There are two things Swift does better than anybody on Earth though:

1.) never provide closure

2.) espouse shop-worn cliches in every interview

These are the same exact two things that Illini basketball does better than any team in the country.

UPDATE: Our latest bracketology, Illinois is in the “first four out.”

UPDATE: our Big Ten Tournament predictions and preview.

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Tim Beckman unveils the 2015 Illini football version of “W.I.N.T.”


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This offseason, fourth year Illini football coach Tim Beckman has introduced a new acronym catch-phrase/motivational mantra for his program.

“Whatever is Necessary Today.” or “W.I.N.T.” was the slogan Tim Beckman used to motivate and lead the Illinois Fighting Illini in 2013. It was much maligned by the Chicago media.

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Illini basketball: updated tourney bubble watch


rayvonte-rice illini basketball

2014-15 Illini basketball, sans Rayvonte Rice, has gone 6-3 (67% winning percentage) on the season. They are 11-7 with him, for a winning percentage of 61%. A difference in winning percentage of 6% doesn’t tell the whole story though.

Although the winning percentages are the same with and without Rayvonte Rice, the level of competition has been almost literally twice as formidable. At least if you believe the average RPIs of the opposition.

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Lou Henson, greatest coach in Illini history, earns Hall of Fame entry


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The street adjacent to Assembly Hall in Champaign-Urbana is honorary Lou Henson Way for a reason. Lou is the all time winningest coach in Illinois basketball history.

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Analyzing Illini basketball NCAA Tournament chances


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It is the job of John Groce and his players to be focusing only on Michigan State this Sunday. It is the job of the Illini basketball media to do the opposite. People who only tell you what Illini basketball did and not what they could or might do aren’t journalists; they’re stenographers.

Coaches and players are only doing their jobs when they espouse all the pointless “one game at a time,” “next man up” and “we’re 0-0 right now” cliches. Media members who print/air those phrases are committing journalistic malpractice however. It’s our job to look ahead. In college basketball, more than any other sport, the postseason is everything.

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Despite “Orange Out,” Illini basketball still has attendance issues


assembly hall illini basketball

I hate to be the Illini basketball version of the Federal Reserve Chairman and “take the punch bowl away once the party has started,” but someone has to.

William McChesney Martin, the ninth Fed Chair of these United States coined that phrase to encapsulate his position with an easy to understand analogy.

Today, you’ll see lots of Illini basketball game recap stories, even though that specific genre of sports writing became a dinosaur at least a half-decade ago. These shopworn game recap stories will probably overlook the fact that last night’s energy and excitement has largely been the exception, and not the 2014-15 Illini basketball rule.

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How to fix the annual Illini basketball United Center game


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It was officially announced yesterday that Illinois and Northwestern will meet in football at Soldier Field this fall. They will play each other again on the lakefront in three of the next five years in total. This is a brilliant move on the part of Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas. It’s an excellent attempt to get the Chicago market, a die-hard pro sports town, interested in college football.

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Illini football to face Northwestern at Soldier Field this season


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In an effort to boost the profile and interest of both programs in the Chicago area, Illini football and Northwestern football will meet three times in the next four years at Soldier Field.

The series commences this fall.

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