Update on Illinois Assembly Hall renovation plans (video)

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Illinois Fighting Illini basketball celebrated the 50th anniversary of Assembly Hall (the REAL Assembly Hall, unlike the one where the Hoosiers play, which came second, Champaign’s Assembly Hall came first) by squeaking by Big Ten doormat Nebraska 72-65 and unveiling the Assembly Hall renovation plans during the final Illini home game . A video showed CGI visualizations of what the new Assembly Hall renovation will look like. And the senior day victory over the Cornhuskers is exactly 50 years from when the Assembly Hall first opened its doors on March 2, 1963.

The new website for Assembly Hall renovations was launched yesterday with the brand name “Illinois Renaissance.” Two big changes to Assembly Hall were revealed this past Friday at a press conference in Chicago: the building will finally have air conditioning, and Hall naming rights are now up for sale. I’ll have more on this when I publish my exclusive with Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas in the next couple days.

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Illini basketball resume looks very NCAA ready with Senior Day victory

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Illini basketball (21-9, 8-8) celebrated the 50th anniversary of Assembly Hall (the REAL Assembly Hall, unlike the one where the Hoosiers play see the video of the renovation plans here) by squeaking by Big Ten doormat Nebraska 72-65 (13-16, 4-12). The senior day victory over the Cornhuskers is exactly 50 years from when the Assembly Hall first opened its doors on March 2, 1963. The Illini bench outscored the Huskers bench 38-0 and the Illini won the rebounding margin 35-26; which offset the Huskers shooting 50% from three.

Scheduling the Huskers for Senior day is like scheduling the Hoosiers in football for homecoming- you want to give the crowd a very high probability of victory. But it almost didn’t happen. Illini basketball seniors Kevin Berardini, Tyler Griffey, Sam McLaurin, Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson were honored in senior day ceremonies before a game that was way too close for comfort.

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Keys for the #3 Indiana Hoosiers against the #1 Michigan Wolverines

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Fans, analysts and (surely) the teams themselves have had this one circled all season.

Indiana and Michigan were projected to be the Big Ten’s two best teams before the beginning of the 2012-13 college basketball campaign, and each has held true to form — even if in inverse order to this point.

And at 9 p.m. today, the Hoosiers and Wolverines — both with 7-1 Big Ten marks — will go at it for sole possession of first place in the conference in Assembly Hall.

The No. 3 Hoosiers have won 14 of the last 15 home games against the Wolverines, who are No. 1 for the first time since the infamous “Fab Five” squad, but this unquestionably is the most talented roster Michigan has had since Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King were causing sparks to fly in all directions in Ann Arbor.

How does Indiana win tonight?

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Cody Zeller and Christian Watford returning to Indiana Hoosiers for 2012-13

Let the preseason No. 1 speculation officially begin for Indiana basketball.

The Hoosiers, widely expected to enter the 2012-13 season at or near the top of the polls, got huge news for their chances on that front as the university’s athletics department announced in a release that forwards Cody Zeller and Christian Watford would return for their sophomore and senior seasons, respectively, rather than declare for the NBA Draft.

Such was expected. I never thought Zeller would leave after one season of college basketball (although he could have been a lottery pick), and I didn’t get a hint of any current interest in Watford as a NBA prospect — his skill set is a bit lacking in areas and he isn’t being listed in any mock draft I see — so it’s not a surprise to see both guys announce their returns. It’s going to be truly fascinating to see this Indiana team next season. It will have the firepower to do great things.

This announcement does create one minor issue for the Hoosiers, though: They are oversigned by one scholarship heading into next season. Coach Tom Crean will have to show one guy the door to make enough room for his key returnees as well as for “The Movement” of 2012 signees.

Follow the jump for the release from Indiana University Athletics.

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Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Combine for 56 points in Win at Illinois

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If there were any fears that Michigan–after being dominated at home by Purdue on Saturday–had witnessed the end of its three-week long hot streak, you can put those to rest now. The Wolverines followed that clunker against the Boilermakers with a dominant performance against Illinois Thursday night, a 72-61 beatdown at Assembly Hall. The victory is Michigan’s first in Champagne since 1995.

It was a tale of two halves for the Wolverines, and the first belonged to point guard Trey Burke. The freshman simply couldn’t miss in the opening period, going 6-7 from the field–including 4-4 on three-point tries–and finishing with 14 points.

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Indiana Hoosiers Are Back After Beating No. 1 Kentucky

Welcome back, Indiana University basketball.

It’s been way too long.

Fans in Bloomington and across the nation have been longing — aching — to utter those words after the fallout from the Kelvin Sampson fiasco and the subsequent 28 wins over the first three seasons of the Tom Crean era.

And what better way to usher in the Hoosiers’ resurgence than with an epic 73-72 upset of long-time rival and No. 1 Kentucky at Assembly Hall with a last-second 3-pointer by Christian Watford?

After what might have been one of the best games ever played in the famed basketball arena, fans legitimately can say their program is relevant again.

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Indiana Hoosiers Take Program’s Buzz into Kentucky Game

The week leading up to the Indiana University basketball game against No. 1 Kentucky at 5:15 today at Assembly Hall has been, in actuality, a rather controversial one in Bloomington.

IU Athletics sustained a bit of a public relations hit in reprimanding a group of students who planned to camp out in front of Assembly Hall for the entire week so that the fans could be first in line for the student section’s best first-come, first-serve seats on game day. The group dubbed itself “Camp Crean.”

The move initially was aimed at preventing the group from setting up a tent as the “Occupy” movement has hit Bloomington hard and heavy, but the students stayed a bit longer into the week before being encouraged to return home with front-of-the-line vouchers courtesy of the school’s athletic department.

While this saga has sparked a good bit of debate among social media, the overarching message is undebatable: The fact students were willing to stay in front of the storied arena is clear evidence that the buzz surrounding Indiana Hoosiers basketball is back.

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Indiana University Attempts to Get CRAZY Hoosiers Fans Studying

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Can you feel the excitement for the Saturday match-up of undefeateds between the Indiana Hoosiers and #1 Kentucky Wildcats? You can in Bloomington.

The insane college basketball fans who wait outside the stadium to get in have been told to go home and hit the books- by Indiana University officials!

Student season ticket holders who have been standing outside Assembly Hall since Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 6, were given vouchers yesterday that will allow them to enter first in order when doors open at 3:45 p.m. Saturday for the game against top-ranked Kentucky.

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Connections, Nepotism Brings ESPN College GameDay to Champaign Saturday

By Paul M. Banks

Once again the old adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” rings true.

This time it’s applied to ESPN’s location selection process for broadcasting their national college basketball pregame show. From 2003-07 Illinois had MORE WINS than any program in the nation. But ESPN College Gameday never visited once (not even during the Champaign Campaign season of 2004-05, when the Illini tied the all-time record for single season victories).  But tomorrow “ESPN College GameDay Driven by State Farm” will broadcast live from the University of Illinois prior to the prime-time basketball matchup between the Fighting Illini and Michigan State. UI is one of just eight universities chosen by ESPN, out of 343 Division 1 basketball programs, for a live GameDay broadcast this season.

So it’s finally happened for the Illini! Unfortunately, it’s in a year that’s actually been very disappointing for the orange and blue. The Illini find themselves on the wrong side of the NCAA bubble and not even remotely close to a national ranking. So why this year? Because the school has the right connections.

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#20 Illini Fighting on in Las Vegas Invitational

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By Paul M. Banks

It’s Feast Week! When there’s non-stop college basketball, so many games start at bizarre times. And not just because games are going on in obscure parts of the world in far away time zones. In order to accommodate the television coverage, some games start at…like this one starts at 8:30 pm. #20 Illinois vs. the Wofford Terriers in the second round of the Las Vegas Invitational. Hence the late start time, so ESPNU could televise this game. weber

Wofford is no push over, they won at Georgia, and lost by one possession to Pittsburgh.

Of course, I’m not sure Pitt is that good, and Georgia might just get kicked out of the SEC they are so bad so…..

The Illini will also get a late tip off in the 3rd round taking on Utah at 9:30 PM Friday. In game 4 on Saturday, Illinois will meet either Bradley or Oklahoma St. Here’s hoping it’s OSU only because I’M A MAN!!! I’M 40!. Ok I’m 32, but you get the idea. BTW, Illinois beat Presbyterian 94-48 in the opening round of this game.

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Brando Paul comes in leading the Illini in scoring at 16.7 PPG, Mike Davis is second at 12 ppg, D.J. Richardson is 3rd at 11.3. So the Illini are getting a lot of scoring from their freshmen wings.  Tip off has begun. McCamey takes and misses the first shot.

Wofford comes out shooting 8-2, WU 17:30 left

DJ Richardson drains a 3, following a Mike Tisdale skyhook. 1st tv timeout ILL trail 10-9

Do they really need the screaming sound effect here? when they play the Indian war hymn. I get it it’s the “House of ‘Paign” in Champaign. but we don’t need the sadist sound effect.

Wofford is just owning the 3 pt line right now. They’re going to have to miss sometime. Weber is screaming at Demetri to move and at the whole team to “look inside”

BTW, McCamey just missed badly.

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Tell me again why this team is ranked #20? when they’re down 8 to a mid-major 12 min in?

In the words of Zhane, “hey mr. DJ, all night…on and on and on”….he hit a three to cut the deficit to 3, but then what would you expect? Terriers hit a 3 again. Somebody guard that Cameron Rundles guy, and Junior Salters…and someone stop leaving Noah Dahlman alone too.

I know that Billy Cole and Bubba Chisholm are in fact white. I can see that with my own eyes, but I still don’t believe them. With names like that, I still think they are lying to me about being white.

For you that are new to TSB, you stopped by on a very historical day!!! Earlier in the day we shattered the monthly page views record!!! with 6 days left in the month. And we just broke the daily page views record….right about..NOW! with 3 hours left in the day nonetheless. THANK YOU TSB READERS! And NFL Mock Draft, and Jimmy Clausen as well. Couldn’t have done it without you.

Hey Mr. DJ all nihiiiight.. on and on and on. Richardson hits a big 3 to put Illinois up for the first time in game 33-32 with a 1:54 left in half.

Maybe DJ will go to the NBA some day, maybe I’ll win a Webby someday? It’s the holiday season, and it’s feast week, so anything can happen, right?

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Yes, I think that is Mary Tyler Moore.

Demtri’s defense is actually better this year. no, really I mean it.  Still no excuse that they got out-rebounded so badly in the 1st half, from such a smaller team. NO EXCUSE Illini up 49-42 16:19 left in game. Lisa Salters is indeed tearing up Illinois.

49-47 Illinois, 15:50 left.

rebounding deficit is 29-15 now…ouch! neother team handling the ball very well. game tied at 50. 14 min left

THAT MOVE BY MCCAMEY, BEHIND THE BACK, REVERSE LAY-IN WAS SICK!!!

Wait., I’ll give it an even more favorable adjective; D WILLESQUE! 58-50 Illinois 10 min left

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DJ for 3 again. 70-57, 4:30 left Illini starting to pull away now. I don’t think they’ll win this game by 20, but they might finish winning by 15.

No matter what the box score ends up saying, Illini had a much harder fought victory than it seems. This team hung around a lot longer than anyone thought they would. And Illini are shooting 57%, if they had an off shooting night, this would have been trouble.

I’ll see you guys later after the presser. with quotes and final thoughts.