Illini Wonk
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
  Big Ten Champs
With the blowout of Northwestern tonight, the Illinois Fighting Illini clinched a share of the Big Ten conference regular-season title for the fourth time in the last five years. They can claim it outright for the second straight season with a win over Purdue next Thursday (that's right, they don't have a game for eight days which should challenge sports-writers who still have to file reports on the Illini).

Reigning Big Ten player of the week, Dee Brown, led the way for Illinois with 20 points while shooting 6-8 on three-pointers and added five assists. Brown also had the play of the game with a fast-break alley-oop pass over two Wildcats to Roger Powell for the dunk. Powell, for his part, had a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards. For complete box score, go here.

As usual, Jim Paul provides the Associated Press recap, which can be found on Illinois' official site.

Although the Big Ten title was one of their pre-season goals, the Illini are clearly not satisfied and have no desire to share the conference trophy. A report earlier today from Marlen Garcia in the Chicago Tribune had much worth reading:

Clinching a share of a conference championship used to be something to celebrate for Illinois.

Those days are gone for the No. 1 Illini (27-0, 13-0).

If Illinois beats Northwestern on Wednesday at the Assembly Hall to guarantee itself a share of the Big Ten title, no banners will be raised."

Why would you celebrate a tie?" Illinois guard Dee Brown asked Monday.

Illinois coach Bruce Weber said he told school administrators there will be no party."We want to win it outright," he said. "That means we have to win two."
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