Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Mock, Balk, Jaysquawk

Barring catastrophe, Illinois secured the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament last night. What's that you say, Illinois didn't play? As Ricky Ricardo would say, "Lucy, you got some esplainen to do."

As the crowd chanted "Bobby, Bobby" and fans flooded the court, the Kansas Jaysquawks made their way to the locker room after being beaten last night in double overtime by Texas Tech. It was Tech's first win over Kansas in Coach Bob Knights four seasons in Lubbock. For those of you that didn't see it, you missed a great game. However, don't think that Texas Tech just got lucky in pulling off this big upset.

The Red Raiders led throughout much of the game by several points. Kansas managed to tie the game in both regulation and the first overtime due to missed free throws followed by poor defensive/rebounding efforts on the other end. Kansas' luck ran out, however, in the second overtime when, after being up by 5, they failed to close the door. Texas Tech closed to within 2 and then with 3.6 seconds Darryl Dora hit a 3 to give the Red Raiders a 1 point lead. Kansas desparation final shot wasn't even close, sealing the win for Tech.

You might think that this post is just Illinitalk taking the opportunity to gloat about a Kansas loss. If so, you would be wrong. Well, okay, maybe partially right. But there is a more important reason for highlighting this loss by Kansas. Thanks to Texas Tech's victory, Illinois (again, barring catastrophe, knock on wood) should now be a virtual lock to receive the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. It means they should get to play their games in Indianapolis, Chicago, and St. Louis, all just a short 2-3 hour bus ride from Champaign-Urbana.

If the Illini win out, this would have likely happened anyway. But the Kansas loss provides some breathing room. Kansas (and to a lesser extent Kentucky) was likely Illinois' biggest competition for the Midwest Region #1 seed (since they are both located in the Midwest). However, every top 5 team now has at least 2 losses (Boston College, with 1 loss, is currently ranked 6th). In Illinitalk's opinion, Illinois' seeding should not change, even if they were to suffer a loss between now and the tournament. This should lessen some of the pressure on the team.

As of today, Illinitalk projects the four number one seeds by region to be Illinois (Midwest AND #1 OVERALL), Kentucky (South), Kansas (West), and either North Carolina or Wake Forest (East). Some might argue that Wake and NC will both get #1 seeds and knock out either Kentucky or Kansas. That could happen. It would be tough to knock out Kentucky, though, unless they lose another game. With last night's loss, Kansas could drop, but keep in mind that either NC or Wake will have at least one more loss in the ACC tournament. As they say, time will tell. For now, GO ILLINI!!!

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