Friday, February 04, 2005

Would it make a difference?

The primary stories about the Illini today in several papers focus on the fact that their path to an undefeated season looks easier now thanks to some bad luck that has hit other teams. Indiana's Bracey Wright is doubtful for Sunday's game due to a sprained ankle, Michigan's Daniel Horton is suspended and Lester Abram suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, and Iowa's Pierre Pierce (the league's 3rd leading scorer) was kicked off the team due to legal problems (to put it kindly). Purdue has also suffered through injuries to several players this year. I don't count Wisconsin's loss of Boo Wade as he really wasn't around at all for the Big 10 season.

The question llinitalk would like to raise is would it have made any difference if these players were still on their respective teams? We believe the answer to that question is no. The only way these teams are going to beat the Illini is if Illinois has a terrible game and the other team plays to perfection. You could argue that the missing players could make that happen. We would argue that the Illini won't let it happen. Illinois has had some bad games this year (the Iowa game comes to mind) and yet they still found the will and the way to win. Illinois is not going to lose a game at home to Indiana or anyone else, Michigan is still too inexperienced, and the Illini are going to want to pay the Hawkeyes back in Iowa City for taking them to overtime in Champaign.

Don't misunderstand--not all of Illinois' remaining games (especially Wisconsin) are going to be a cakewalk. They never are in the Big 10, especially when you go on the road. But Illinitalk doesn't believe the Illini are going to falter now, regardless of the opponent. The motivation of an undefeated regular season is there and we believe Illinois will go into the Big 10 Tournament as the undefeated number 1 seed.

Quotes of the Day:

On the Indiana game: "We're in the house of pain, we're in Champaign. We're not coming in with any lackluster effort...."--Dee Brown

On focusing on the NCAA championship vs. the undefeated record: "You only get a ring three ways. Win the league championship, go to the Final Four, or get a national championship. 21-0 is great, 22-0 is great, the #1 ranking for eight or nine weeks is great, but it doesn't get you a ring. You get a ring because you won a championship."--Coach Weber

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