Michigan State #1, Purdue #2 in Big Ten Basketball Preseason Power Rankings

michigan state spartans

Believe it or not, Big Ten basketball media day is Thursday. Yes, hoops talking season arrives though it may not feel like it, given the 80+ degree temperatures in much of Big Ten country currently. Some schools have actually already had their media days, and you know what that means- overlap season is here.

So while every single outlet on the planet is posting Big Ten football power rankings today, we’re doing the hoops equivalent. 

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Infamous Illini Football Playboy Mansion Story: Fact or Fiction?

jack trudeau illini football

This legendary Playboy mansion tale we’re about to re-examine again is either  a.) the worst kept secret in Illini football history or

b.) the biggest lie ever told in the history of the program

This “urban legend” from 32 years ago is a timeless and perfect topic of discussion, especially this week when Illinois is set to host Purdue. Thus, episode four of “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” (part of the Hammer and Rails podcast network) focuses on the ’83 Illini.

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ESPN College Gameday: How it Went From Transcendent to Unwatchable

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Republishing from 9-16-17

To pinpoint what’s so wrong with ESPN College Gameday in 2017, there are a couple different places from which you can start. You can begin with ESPN’s horrible bungling of the Jemele Hill and Robert Lee situations, and go from there. The same principle, that of “let’s try to never hurt anyone’s feelings ever, no matter what the cost, because hurt feelings means upset sponsors” applies across the board.

ESPN should have never apologized for what Jemele Hill said about Donald Trump.

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College Sports Fans Beware the Nefarious Influence of the Recruiting-Industrial Complex

It’s really astounding when you think about it- in an era when almost no one is willing to pay for news content, recruiting services can survive and thrive off a subscription-based business model.

The year-round extensive coverage of college recruiting, at every step in the process, has destroyed media coverage of college sports. It’s not just the rise of the recruiting-industrial complex itself that ruined it. Recruiting sites flourished at the same time social media exploded and these two phenomena fed off of each other to concoct a toxic cocktail.

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EXCLUSIVE: Darrin Fletcher on Illini Baseball Next Big Thing Bren Spillane

DARRIN FLETCHER

Darrin Fletcher is no doubt on the Illini baseball Mt. Rushmore, right next to Lou Boudreau. Bren Spillane, if he takes the success that he’s enjoyed in college and translates it to the Major League level, could one day join them.

Fletcher, who played 14 years in the big leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays, set an Illinois career batting average record of .497 (80-161) that still stands today. If you’re familiar with baseball betting, then you obviously realize how superlative it is to hit safely half the time. Bren Spillane, a 3rd round pick of the Cincinnati Reds (82nd overall) in the MLB Draft earlier this month, put up similarly eye-popping numbers in Champaign this past season. 

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EXCLUSIVE with Lou Henson, The Godfather of Modern Illini Athletics

lou henson

Lou Henson is the El Pedrino, “The Godfather,” of modern University of Illinois athletics. If you’re a generation X or younger Illini, then you already know how Henson is the Illini legend of all legends in modern sports. Red Grange, Dick Butkus and George Halas all have their place in the pantheon, but Illinois is a basketball school, and both the home court, and the street which bisects the two revenue sport home venues bare his honorary namesake. 

At age 86, Henson was inducted into the second class of the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame Friday night, with a black tie gala at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

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Kendall Gill on the Chicago Bulls NBA Draft, Illini Hoops (EXCLUSIVE)

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Fighting Illini legend and former Chicago Bull Kendall Gill just turned 50 a couple weeks ago, but he’s in as phenomenal physical shape as he’s ever been. Boxing is a big reason why, and Gill was going to box the day after we caught up to him- at the second annual Illini Athletics Hall of Fame gala. If you’re into boxing, and need a new heavy bag, see more about them at this product review site. Boxing is one of the best cardio activities that one can partake in. 

 “It’s one of my main workouts, it keeps me in good shape,” Gill told The Sports Bank during our exclusive interview, conducted at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

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NBA, Illini Legend Deron Williams on His Present, Future (EXCLUSIVE)

deron williams

Illini legend and three time NBA All-Star Deron Williams walked up the orange carpet with his wife Amy Friday night at the second annual Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame Gala at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

D. Will was a part of the inaugural Hall of Fame class but was unable to attend last year’s gala as he was just coming off a NBA Finals appearance with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Williams couldn’t pass up this opportunity again, especially when you consider the manner in which he was invited.

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Illini Basketball: Five UI Athletics Hall of Fame Snubs

nick anderson illini basketball lou henson

Illini basketball, on the men’s side, comprised one quarter of the inaugural Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame class. That’s fitting as U of I is a hoops school. As current Illini basketball coach Brad Underwood reminded the media ahead of the first ever HOF gala, Illinois was ranked the #11 hoops program of all time by the Associated Press in 2017.

Although the program has sharply declined lately, over the many years backing the Illini to emerge victorious on betting sites has proven to be a lucrative practice. Perhaps the program can return to their winning ways someday soon.

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Illini Football: Six UI Athletics Hall of Fame Snubs

jack-trudeau

Illini football comprised one quarter of the inaugural Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame class. Dick Butkus, Dike Eddleman, Red Grange, George Halas, George Huff, Buddy Young and Bob Zuppke were the seven representatives of the gridiron in the 28 member class.

In the second class, they were joined by Jim Grabowski, Dana Howard, Alex Agase and Ray Elliot. Speaking of football, if you want to do some live AFL betting then you should check out that hyperlink. As we look ahead to the next potential set of Illini football Hall of Famers, we notice no truly obvious, glaring omissions, but still plenty of accomplished players left out. Let’s take a look at who the next six should be.

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Wrigley Field College Football Bowl Game Possible in 2021

wrigley field northwestern

If a Wrigley Field bowl game is to happen, it won’t be coming along until 2021, according to Chicago Cubs President Crane Kenney.  Many have called 2010’s Wrigleyville Classic, in which Illinois defeated Northwestern 48-27, the first bowl game ever held at Wrigley Field.

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Why Wisconsin, not Illinois is the Northwestern Opponent at Wrigley Field

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Tuesday morning saw the Chicago Cubs and Northwestern athletics “announce” during a news conference at Wrigley Field that NU will play the Wisconsin Badgers in a 2020 college football game. In having 2020 vision, you’ll see that NU was forced to choose between one of two Ryan Field home dates that could be moved to the Friendly Confines. 

Obviously, the park’s main tenants, the Chicago Cubs, are kind of busy with it each September, and having reached the last three Naitonal League Championship Series, likely using it in October too.   [Read more…]