Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Okay, the Illinette is at home right now so the more mellow Good Hope Orange is on vacation this morning. I read a few comments yesterday that bothered me a little bit at the time but the more I thought about them, the more irritated I became. The two comments that annoyed me the most are: 1) Illinois is the most likely #1 seed to get knocked off this weekend and 2) Something to the effect of "perhaps Illinois' wins over Wake Forest, Gonzaga, and Cincinnati during the season be viewed as less significant since all three of those teams lost in the second round."

The first comment was made by Stewart Mandel on SI.com and is just plain ridiculous. I understand a potential matchup with Arizona or Oklahoma State is going to be a tough game for Illinois but what about Washington and Duke? Washington is playing well but faces a Louisville team in the Sweet Sixteen that should have been higher than a 4 seed and is playing equally well. Duke did not look good over the weekend and they face a solid Michigan State team and then possibly Kentucky.

In the same article Mr. Mandel also said Illinois and North Carolina remain the teams to beat and that he is keeping Louisville, UNC, Duke, and Illinois as his Final Four picks. If that is the case, then wouldn't logic dictate that he believes Washington is the most likely #1 seed to get knocked off? Does he read his own articles? Apparently not.

Unfortunately, I could not find the article again where I read the second comment. I believe it was on one of the major sports websites but not positive. That statement is beyond ridiculous. It is just plain stupid. As the first four days of the tournament showed, there is a tremendous amount of parity and 8 of the 16 top seeds got knocked out. Wake lost to West Virginia in DOUBLE OVERTIME in a back and forth game. Cincinnati, a #7 seed, lost to #2 seed Kentucky. Gonzaga's MO the past few years has been to get a really high seed and then lose in the second round. To try and discredit Illinois' regular season wins over these teams because the teams lost in the second round is outrageous. I believe North Carolina lost to Wake during the regular season so what does that say about them?

What about the fact that Michigan State, who Illinois beat once, and Wisconsin, who Illinois beat three times, are in the Sweet Sixteen? Doesn't that also say something about Illinois? I am fed up and have just plain had it with the lack of respect being given to the Big 10. The Big 10 has 3 teams left in the Sweet Sixteen, which is tied with the ACC for the most of any conference.

How about the following (not a comprehensive list, just what I can recall off the top of my head)? The Big East has lost their top teams in Syracuse, UConn, and BC. The ACC has lost Wake and Georgia Tech. The Big 12 lost Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. The SEC lost Florida, Alabama, and LSU. Who did the Big Ten lose? Iowa and Minnesota, neither of which was considered one of the Big Ten's top teams this year. The Big Ten may not have been the best conference this year but it had a great team, two very good teams, and then several solid teams.

The Big Ten has a realistic chance of putting 3 teams in the Elite Eight and possibly 2 in the Final Four. It may not happen but it is time that the Big Ten gets some respect. Illinois has been a great team this year and nothing that has happened in the tournament so far should diminish that fact. If anything, it should enhance it.

Fact of the Day:
Illinois' winning percentage the last five seasons is .811 (137-32). This ranks them second in the country. The only team ahead of the Illini? Duke at .851 (148-26). Wouldn't it be fun to beat them for the National Title? Go Illini!

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