Illini Wonk
Monday, February 07, 2005
  Fighting Illini vs. Wolverines
For rivalry week, the Illinois Fighting Illini face the Michigan Wolverines on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. est. Brent Musberger will call play-by-play, Steve Lavin will provide color commentary and Erin Andrews is the sideline reporter for ESPN.

The Illini face a program reeling from injuries and suspensions. The Wolverines have lost six straight games and will be without the services of their point guard, Daniel Horton, who was suspended indefinitely after a domestic violence charge. Illinois has had their number in recent years, winning the last nine meetings between the teams.

In his press conference today, Illinois coach Bruce Weber had a lot of nice things to say about Michigan coach Tommy Amaker and the bad luck he's had this year. In an exchange of pleasantries, Amaker was quoted in the Quad-City Times here as saying that the Illini have a chance to be remembered as one of the great teams of all time. Detroit Free Press sports writer John Eligon profiles the two teams here and concludes that the two teams are in opposite universes.

According to Nathaniel Whalen of the Daily Southtown here, the Illini have a chip on their shoulder following their less-than-perfect offensive performance at home against Indiana. The official Illinois release can be read here. Marlen Garcia's preview in the Chicago Tribune is here

Since there isn't a lot of preview coverage of the game, Illini Wonk decided to fill this post with some of the press coverage of the Illini.

The front page of the USA Today sports section was filled with news about some football game played yesterday, but a second sports section had two articles about Illinois & looking at their games from the previous day and another daydreaming about a matchup between the two elite teams. Fortunately for those of you who don't get the print edition of the national paper, you can read the article from Malcolm Moran here.

On SportsCenter tonight, Joe Lunardi said there's no question that Illinois is a #1 seed, but they will be battling Kansas for that seed in the midwest.

Mike DeCourcy puts to rest the "they'd be better off entering the tournament with a loss talk" about the Illini with some good research here. He finds that of the last six teams to go into the NCAAs undefeated, five made the Final Four, and two won the national title. They had a composite NCAA Tournament record of 22-4. Of the last six major-conference teams to enter with one loss only two made the Final Four and none won it all. They compiled NCAA records of 17-6. The bottom line for DeCourcy: if you're good enough to win every game before the NCAAs, you're probably good enough to keep it up. Amen.

In another offering from DeCourcy, he looks at why the Illini are undefeated and offers four reasons: motivation, grace, menace and stamina.

The Big Ten Weekly Release is heavy on Illinois news, with blurbs on Illinois' Record-Setting Season, Roger Powell joining the 1,000 career-point club and Deron Williams' quest to be the first player to lead the conference in assists for three straight seasons (at 7.89 assists per game, he's also on pace to top Eric Snow's single season record of 7.8).
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