Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Michigan State Preview (UPDATED)

It's gonna be a war. Our Michigan State preview starts below.

Chief (1 p.m. Assembly Hall Champaign time on Wed.):

Question: Is this gonna be as huge as Wake Forest last year?

Answer: I think probably not but it's gonna be close.

Two nice blog entries from Tupper here. Note: Tupper must be really excited about this game-he already posted his blog entry for tomorrow today! Can't wait to see what he writes tomorrow.

Good Hope Orange (3:45 p.m. Assembly Hall Champaign time on Thursday):

Big 10 Conference Opener tonight baby! Doesn't get any better than Illinois vs. Michigan State at the Hall, which will be filled to the rafters with orange. Lots of good coverage today. The Sun-Times has a preview that includes great comments from Dee. The Tribune has some thoughts on Illinois' 14-0 start as well as a commentary on Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo that ran yesterday. The Daily Herald may be underrated with regards to their sports section in my opinion--they have some great stuff. Here is their Big Ten Preview from yesterday (they also had breakdowns of each time but they must not have posted that online) and today they explain how Dee has become a basketball junkie (I love that ESPN2 requested game highlights from Dee and also be be sure to read the end of the article about the sign Dee keeps in his room).

If you have read many articles recently about the Big Ten, you probably already know that it is currently considered the top overall conference in the country from top to bottom. You have three teams that stand out in Illinois, Michigan State, and Indiana, five very good teams in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and probably Minnesota, and 3 not so good teams in Northwestern, Purdue, and Penn State. It is going to be a bruising battle this year to win the conference and whoever comes out on top will have earned it. Who is that going to be? Michigan State and Illinois each have very tough schedules so we will learn a lot about both teams during the first 4 to 6 games. When all is said and done, I still believe that one of these two teams is going to win the conference. They have the toughness, experience, leadership, and will to win. I am not sure any of the other teams have all of those qualities at this point.

Because of the toughness of the conference and their schedules, that makes tonight's game even more important. It is especially key for Illinois because it is a home game. It is going to be critical for teams to defend their home courts this year as road wins are going to be tough to come by. It is hard to say that it is a must-win game when it is the conference opener but it is about as close to that as you can get. I think Illinois will pull it out but I don't expect a blowout like in some previous years. Why does Illinois win? D-E-F-E-N-S-E.

Side Bars:

--Congratulations to the Illini Wrestling Team on capturing the Midlands Wrestling Championship and on being ranked 3rd in the country. They are the only the third team to win three consecutive Midlands Championships, joining Iowa and Iowa State in that distinction.

--Congrats as well to Ohio State and Penn State on great BCS Bowl wins. They represented the Big 10 well. Also, congrats to the Texas Longhorns on winning the National Championship and to the USC Trojans for their great run. If you didn't see the game last night, you missed out. It was a great one and Vince Young (the Texas QB) put on the best individual performance I have ever seen in a National Championship game. Think Michael Vick except that Young can pass well and he may be better than Vick (yeah, he was that impressive).

--Finally, after watching the Orange Bowl on Tuesday night, the hypocrisy of the NCAA continues to amaze me. No matter what the NCAA says, there is no way that what Illinois does with regards to the Chief can be considered hostile and abusive if what Florida State and their fans do is not considered to be. Don’t get me wrong—I am not saying FSU’s stuff is hostile and abusive. I just want to make the point that there is no credible way you can say doing the Tomahawk Chop, singing that silly chant, and having fans wearing headdresses and other paraphernalia is not hostile and abusive but having the Chief perform at halftime or the Chief's likeness on apparel is. One of the best columns ever written on the subject comes from op-ed columnist George Will and appears in today's Washington Post. Thanks to Chief for passing it along.


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