Illini Wonk
Thursday, February 24, 2005
  Illini's Impressive Performance
They came into the game against Northwestern with a record of 27-0, ranked #1 for the past three months, the last four weeks of which they were the unanimous selection. Even though Northwestern beat them in Evanston last season, the Illini could have overlooked this game. During Bruce Weber's appearance on Pardon the Interruption, co-host Michael Wilbon said he expected the Wildcats to give them a game.

Not these Illini. Not last night. Not this season. The Fighting Illini put on one of their best performances of the season and handed Northwestern their worst loss in seven years. Mark Tupper blogged that it was Show time...again! Tupper closed the post with: Twenty-eight down, 11 to go. That’s what the Illlini players and coaches are beginning to say now, letting the “national championship” words seep into their conversation. It won’t be as easy as it seemed Wednesday, when Illinois reminded us how well they are capable of playing.

Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Downey made the trek to Champaign and said No superlative can do this team justice. The column included this gem: Asked for an opening statement after a 36-point loss, Northwestern's coach, Bill Carmody, said that at one point early in the game, "We're down 7-0 and we still haven't got a shot off. "From there, it just got worse. That's my statement."

Downey also wrote: They have won 28 games. Just one Illinois team won more … the 31-game winners who made it to the 1989 Final Four. And it isn't even March.

John Supinie's report card in the Peoria Journal-Star gave the team an "A" and wrote: Illinois took nothing for granted. The Illini overwhelmed Northwestern and added to their jewelry collection. In his recap, Supinie said that Illinois' ball movement left Northwestern dizzy.

In the Pantagraph, Jim Benson wrote The Illini put on a shooting and passing clinic they haven't exhibited in awhile. Tim Cronin of the Daily Southtown said Showtime, once limited to a basketball court in Los Angeles, arrived on the Illinois prairie Wednesday night.

Two more left and the Fighting Illini will be talking about the first unblemished regular season for a Big Ten team in almost 30 years. With this team, you expect it.
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