Illini Wonk
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
  Much love for the Illini
Illinois' victory at Wisconsin last night serves as a convincing reminder to the college hoops nation why this team is undefeated and ranked #1. The press (most of them) are gushing over the Orange & Blue.

Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn writes about the what the victory does for the Illini here. He writes: After this win, the Illini are No. 1 -- with a renewed swagger. They are No. 1, owners of enough magic to overcome the spell of what had become college basketball's most daunting road trip, and clear arguably the largest hurdle on the path to an undefeated season.
Continuing with SI, Grant Wahl takes a humorous look at the Fighting Illini's top eight players with the help of Nick "Chainsaw" Smith. In Chainsaw lets it rip, Wahl says Smith is the MVP of the interview room for the nation's No. 1 team. Still at SI, Seth Davis picks Luther Head and Deron Williams as two of his top three player-of-the-year candidates in the Big Ten and lists Bruce Weber as the conference coach of the year.

Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News, perhaps in an attempt to make up for his last Daily Dish profiled here, Dishes today on, who else, Jack Ingram. Opening quote: There have been a lot of games played in 100 years of Illinois basketball, a lot of players doing a lot of spectacular things, but Jack Ingram's performance against Wisconsin will be cherished above much of that history.

On the Illinois page at, web surfers will find a video of Max Kellerman debating the Illini with I, Max cohost Michael Holley. They weren't debating whether or not Illinois was the best team in the country (on that point, they agreed) they were debating whether or not they would go undefeated (Holley says yes, Kellerman says no).

In Unlikely source lifts Illini, Jonathan Linder has more on reserve hero Jack Ingram's second-half performance. Elsewhere from, Kedric Prince says the the MVP of the Illini season thus far is...Coach Bruce Weber. Prince closes his article with: Right now Illini fans are living a dream season and their coach is proving to all the doubters that he's one of the best teachers in the game today. The players on this team are good, but it's time for the teacher to get his due for providing his class with the tools to be successful.

The local press didn't need the reminder of Illinois' ability and were practically giddy with the result. Illini Wonk tried to pick a quote to lift out of John Supinie's column in the Peoria Star-Journal, but couldn't narrow it down. You'll just have to read the entire thing. Supinie also wrote about Dick Vitale's first look at this season's Illini here and gives the Illini an A for their performance in his report card here.

Mark Tupper writes in Kohl'd snap: down by eight points in the second half, No. 1-ranked Illinois did something no Big Ten team has done at the Kohl Center in more than three years. They showed iron-clad guts, steely determination and made a fabulous rush to the finish to overpower No. 18 Wisconsin 75-65 on Tuesday night. On his blog, Tupper wrote to Illini fans: Don’t get too hung up on the next challenge that you forget to really soak in all the joy of a game like we witnessed Tuesday night. That was a truly wonderful college basketball game, one to stick in the vault. Replay it. Talk about it. Debate it with friends. Savor the moment when this exciting Illini basketball team looked an eight-point second-half deficit in the eye, spit in its face, then used its courage and guts to completely reverse the game’s momentum.

There's too much more Fighting Illini coverage for Illini Wonk to cover. It might have something to do with the fact that Wisconsin issued a record 217 press credentials for last night's game. So, that will have to do for now.
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