Your #16 Illinois Fighting Illini basketball team crushed Syracuse tonight, 73-44, in a game that didn’t become a blowout until midway through the second half. Illinois was up only 30-23 at the halftime, as the first 20 minutes were overall pretty ugly.
But you knew that this watered down version of the Cuse weren’t going to be able to go on a 8-0 run, so the Illini essentially cruised for all of the second half, covering the 12-point spread with ease.
Lots of Illini basketball storylines to cover here.
While Syracuse is a traditional power, with a very rich history, they are garbage right now. Actually, they are hot garbage right now, at 3-4, because power conference teams are almost never under .500 as November flips to December.
Coming off their first losing season since 1969, and the first sub .500 season in the 42-year-career of Jim Boeheim, the Orange are even worse this year, with losses to mid-majors and low-majors on their resume already.
As we covered before, Boeheim said the Big Ten “sucked” last year, and this was the first time he faced a Big Ten team since he made those “the Big Ten sucks in the tournament” remarks at Syracuse Media Day (more on that here).
How did that work out for him?
Messed Around and Got a Triple Double
Coleman Hawkins achieved a triple-double tonight, scoring 15 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists. He becomes just the fourth player in Illini basketball history to accomplish this feat. It’s also the fifth triple-double in school history, as Ayo Dosunmu had two.
Three of the five triple-doubles in Illini basketball program history have come during the Underwood era.
Last Dance for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge
ESPN announced yesterday the cessation of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, after 23 years. They are also killing the Big 12/SEC Challenge will conclude in January, ending its 10-year run. ESPN will a create a new ACC-SEC Challenge, starting the week after Thanksgiving 2023.
Conference realignment killed this event. It’s all about television contracts, as that’s the only thing “leagues” are becoming/will become in the future.
The Gavitt Games is a thing because the two conferences, Big Ten and Big East, have the same broadcast partner. Illinois’ 29-point margin of victory marked its largest ever in an ACC/Big Ten Challenge game. The Illini finish as 11-13 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and on a three-straight challenge game win streak.
You Are Entering a 2-3 Zone
Illini basketball coach Brad Underwood, at the media opportunity on facing the SU 2-3 zone: “We’ve worked on it since the early practices. That’s one of the things you never know in league play is how much zone you’re going to see and when you’re going to see it. We have seen some, but we haven’t seen a ton. Obviously, it’s what Jim does.”
Obviously, this Illini basketball team solved the 2-3 zone, as have many other Syracuse opponents this season. All you really need to do is make a few threes, which spreads them out.
Paul M. Banks is the Owner/Manager of The Sports Bank and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”