Illinois-Minnesota Live Blog, NCAA’s at Stake!


By Paul Schmidt and Paul M. Banks

Let’s not understate the importance of this game: Illinois MUST win at home, and Minnesota MUST win to keep their slim NCAA hopes alive. Neither team can afford the blemish of this loss.

The key will be which team doesn’t succumb to the immense pressure that comes with must-win games nearly every time out at this time of the season.  Tip off is in just a couple of minutes!

Illinois 0, Minnesota 0, 19:05 left 1H: I think it needs to be mentioned just how much I dislike Hoffarber…he’s going to be Dugan Fife level of hatred before today almost for sure…(PS)

Illinois 2, Minnesota 2, 15:54 left 1H: Normally I’m a lot more fired up at the beginning of games and really have a lot to say.  But we just hit the under 16 minute time out, and…umm…well it’s a BARNBURNER here in Champaign.  The crowd was pretty fired up at the start of the game, but have been bricked into submission early…(PS)

Illinois 2, Minnesota 2, 14:10 left 1H: Oh it’s burning my eyes!!!!  It’s burning my eyes!!!! (PS)

Minnesota 5, Illinois 2, 13:43 left 1H: Westbrook with a nice runner And One.  At this point, I’m just glad SOMEONE scored…it was getting a little ridiculous there…(PS)

Minnesota 9, Illinois 6, 11:42 left 1H: We think…think….THINK…MJeff is in the building today.  There’s a dude that kinda looks like him from a distance.  I will investigate and attempt to not get arrested. (PS)

Minnesota 11, Illinois 8, 9:48 left 1H: Suffice it to say, this isn’t the start the Illini imagined…They are now 4-18 from the field, good for 22 percent from the field.  You won’t beat the Blessed Sisters of the Poor with that shooting percentage. It makes Minnesota’s 35 percent from the field looks sparkly and shiny and new.  (PS)

Minnesota 11, Illinois 8, 9:19 left 1H: Last time Minnesota beat Illinois at Assembly Hall, I was a senior in high school.  Bears mentioning as this game goes along. (PS)

Minnesota 16, Illinois 8, 7:21 left 1H: The Illini are now shooting 19 percent from the field, 4-21.  Amazingly, they are only down 8 points.  That’s the remarkable thing, is that they haven’t been run out of the gym yet by the Gophers. (PS)

Minnesota 18, Illinois 10, 5:35 left 1H: That Mike Tisdale basket makes the Illini 5-24 from the field.  Just a shade above 20 percent.  Good for them.  (PS)

Minnesota 22, Illinois 12, 2:26 left 1H: Paul Banks brings up a really, really good point when he says that Illinois is really getting blown out right now.  When you are down ten, and only have 12 points, you’re in trouble.  Do you think we can suit MJ up right now?  Would he help the Illini offensive cause?  My guess is that this offends his basketball sensibilities, and that he’ll never come to another game after this, too…Also, the Illini are shooting just 21.4 percent from the field right now, 6-28.  0-9 from three point range.  We’re verging towards one of the worst Illinois offensive performances I’ve ever seen, and I was here for last year’s epic PSU-Illinois game…(PS)

Minnesota 24, Illinois 14, HALFTIME: High scoring first half, with Illinois down a touchdown and a field goal heading into the second half…What?  This isn’t football?  Oh eff me…

I’m having horrible, horrible flashbacks to last year’s Penn State debacle, but the Illini have increased their shooting percentage back above 20 percent, all the way to 22.6!  Look out, the nets are on fire.

The one nice thing is that the Gophers have to be feeling like they should be up more than 10 points when this Illinois team is playing this badly.  It should be mentioned that I called BS on Bruce Weber when he said other teams wouldn’t try to zone them out like Ohio State did a couple of weeks ago, and that’s what has happened today — a steady diet of 2-3 zone that the Illini can’t break or shoot their way out of.  AGAIN…the rest of the Big Ten is taking notes, Bruce.  Figure something out. (PS)

Minnesota 24, Illinois 14, HALFTIME STILL: Tonight’s gonna be a good night…tonight’s gonna be a good good night….tonight’s gonna be a good night….GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHG…(PS)

Minnesota 24, Illinois 14, STILL HALFTIME STILL: Sports Bank contributor/legend in his own mind Pete Christian told us all not to worry, that Minnesota would giftwrap the game for us in the second half…my only response to that is that, if we double the score, that would basically mean that Minny couldn’t score in the second half.  Yikes…(PS)

Minnesota 26, Illinois 17, 18:48 left 2H: BILL COLE FOR THREE!  EFFORT!  That makes the Illini now 1-13 from three point range.  (PS)

Minnesota 29, Illinois 17, 18:10 left 2H: Annnnnnnd the Gophers answer. (PS)

Minnesota 30, Illinois 19, 17:25 left 2H: The Big Ten is also quickly becoming a 4 bid conference…(PS)

Minnesota 33, Illinois 22, 16:40 left 2H: And the Illini just aren’t closing out on the perimeter again.  A HUGE Billy Cole (EFFORT!) three again, and the Gophers immediately answer.  (PS)

Minnesota 33, Illinois 25, 16:09 left 2H: BILLY COLE FOR THREE AGAIN!!!!! (PS)

Minnesota 33, Illinois 25, 15:41 left 2H: This is why Bill Cole is in the starting lineup — he gives the team a constant boost of energy that no one else does…He’s also fearless with his outside shot and the Illini’s best on the ball defender.  You could make a case for Bill Cole for team MVP.  He may be single handedly saving the Illini NCAA hopes right now. (PS)

Minnesota 33, Illinois 27, 14:35 left 2H: Heat check for Bill Cole there, and it rimmed out.  Still, you had to take that shot, caught the ball in stride. (PS)

Minnesota 38, Illinois 29, 12:03 left 2H: Really, not much I can say other than the Illini have gotten within six, but that little spate of hot shooting seems to have faded a bit. Still trailing by nine with only 12 minutes left is not good.  The crowd is back in it, and the Illini must make a run now to get back in this game. (PS)

Minnesota 44, Illinois 29, 10:00 left 2H: And with that Damian Johnson three-pointer, the Illini’s NCAA hopes went down the drain.  Wow.  Just an awful effort from a team that doesn’t deserve to play in the tournament.

To answer the CLS question below, I asked Bruce the same thing after the Ohio State debacle two weeks ago, and he said he wasn’t worried that any teams would implement a zone just to throw that at them.  Minnesota typically runs full court press and man defense.  They implemented a zone just to play against you, Bruce.  We’re still waiting for an explanation. (PS)

Minnesota 46, Illinois 31, 7:34 left 2H: You know, I’ve not done a real good job of giving Minnesota credit here, and I will now. They are absolutely executing the zone perfectly, and the Illini can’t score against it. They have been fantastic defensively.  I’m 100% NOT impressed with the Gophers offense (with the disinterested attitude that the Illini are playing defense with, they should be up 30 points), but you have to give the defense some credit.  This was a must win game, and Tubby Smith had his guys prepared.

You cannot say the same for Bruce Weber.  I don’t think that I can say that last part enough. (PS)

Minnesota 51, Illinois 36, 6:17 left 2H: You really have to question just how much heart a team has when there is a fired up crowd (they were taken out early, but willing to give it up today), a must-win game at home, and this is the effort the Illini put up.  Complete lack of heart and discipline. (PS)

Minnesota 53, Illinois 44, 4:30 left 2H: Hmm.  Mmmmhmm. That is all for now.

Although to respond to PB’s Mike Davis double-double comment…it reminds me a little of Sammy Sosa’s 1996 season, where he hit 40 home runs in one of the most un-memorable 40 HR seasons ever.  His stat line that season was ridiculously awful.  Go ahead, look it up…I’ll wait…(PS)

Minnesota 55, Illinois 46, 3:38 left 2H: The Illini’s last stand for an NCAA  bid starts here. Things were certainly not helped by McCamey’s 3-16 performance (including 0-10 (!!!!) from three-point range). However, I still believe that Bruce has a lot to answer for after this game, not the least of which is why a team, playing for its NCAA Tournament lives was so ill-prepared for a game against another bubble team. (PS)

Minnesota 55, Illinois 49, 3:16 left 2H: Make that 1-11 from three-point range…(PS)

Minnesota 57, Illinois 52, 3:00 left 2H: BILLY COLE FOR THREE…and then he fouls out. (PS)

Minnesota 59, Illinois 55, 2:10 left 2H: DJ RICHARDSON FOR THREE!!  Win it for Billy Cole, guys!! (PS)

Minnesota 59, Illinois 55, 1:55 left 2H: It should be mentioned that the score was 51-32 with like 7:00 left in the game.  I’m not saying, I’m just saying…BIG STOP! (PS)

Minnesota 59, Illinois 58, 1:20 left 2H: Oh. My. God. This isn’t actually happening, right?? (PS)

Minnesota 61, Illinois 58, :21.2 left 2H: And that’ll pretty much do it. A valiant comeback, but the McCamey three wouldn’t fall, and that was necessary. (PS)

Minnesota 62, Illinois 60, :07.8 left 2H: Sampson at the line with short hair to ice the game. (PS)

Minnesota 62, Illinois 60, FINAL: OOF. Gut punch. (PS)

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  1. Yes, he is there

  2. I hate Hoffarber almost as much as I hated Brian Cardinal!

    I still think it’s hilarious that when we heard Bruce Weber yelling out his calsl, and we started lampooning his voice, and I yelled his “SIDEWINDER SIDEWINDER” call…then literally next trip down Bruce yells SIDEWINDER ha haha…ohh I’m funny

  3. the scoring needs to pick up here- or it’s quickly going to become PSU 38, ILL 33 soon

  4. Illinois offense today reminds me of that scene in Spaceballs when Mega-maid starts to reverse flow, so President Scroob tells Col. Sanders “do something” and he tells Dark Helmet “do something!” and Dark Helmet gets on the intercom and tells the whole spaceship “DO SOMETHING”

  5. Lowest first half score in the Big Ten this season!

  6. TON of security around Michael Jordan, doesn’t look like he’s going to talk to the media today

  7. Sooo, they don’t practice against a zone(I guess the answer to that question is obvious)? The real question, then, is why???? Isn’t the zone part of basketball?

  8. Yep…you were right about the Illini opponents running zone. Absolutely- just like Ohio St did!

    The Grim Reaper has officially come for Illini’s NCAA hopes

  9. At least 1.) your blog is really funny today! Your comments are spot on and hilarious! 2.) It’s getting a lot of traffic, especially for a live blog- so that makes me feel better. Even though Illinois is heading to the NIT now, and as you pointed out, the Big 10 is a 4 bid league

  10. And Mike Davis has now had the “ugliest” double double in NCAA history. seriously with all his missed chippies and bunnies? a double double.

    Oh and if you believed in McCamey leaving school early for the NBA Draft? don’t worry he’ll be around now

  11. Exactly, and knowing how Ohio St. owned us running the zone, if Bruce Webber were coaching any of Illinois’ Big Ten opponents, wouldn’t he, as an accomplished coach, consider using the zone to beat Illinois himself in a must win situation? Ask him that!

  12. OMG

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