Thursday, February 16, 2006

Northwestern, Mike Davis and killer instinct

A few thoughts on last night's game:

1. The biggest challenge this team faces is finding its killer instinct. They have to learn that it's acceptable and even encouraged once you knock your opponent to the ground to step on the throat and go for the kill. Tupper blogs about this today with a good quote from Weber about how the team doesn't deal with leads very well.

2. It's all a mind game from here on out. The Penn State game is the test and the players have to put it behind them. If they don't, they will play uptight the rest of the way and I would say at best split the remaining games and be an early out in the tourney. If they get focused-as they seemed to do for part of the time last night-I would say one more loss could be likely (at MSU) but everything else is definately winnable. That gives them good momentum going into the tourney that matters.

3. The Ohio State loss last night is very telling. After their win over Illinois, you'd think Ohio State would have been able to handle Wisconsin even though it was played in Madison, a place where Illinois won handily and displayed the killer instinct we've all been waiting for.

This just shows how competitive and strong the Big Ten is this year. This is especially true among the top teams: anyone can win on any given night. In addition, one of the signs of high stature the Illinois program now enjoys can be seen each time the Illini take to the floor: we get everyone's best shot.

4. In addition, I know it will never happen but I would love to have the regular season round robin format back. I'm sure it will ignite some Iowa fans but seriously, if (gag) Iowa wins (gag) the Big Ten title (gag) their favorable schedule will be one of the reasons.

5. The Mike Davis saga looks to be coming to an end. This is going to be very interesting with openings at Indiana, Missouri and Cincinnati. The immediate question that concerns Illinois is the game with the Hoosiers on Sunday (on CBS). How will the Indiana players respond? Will they fall apart or will they rally around Davis?

My initial prediction for who Indiana hires: Kevin Stallings of Vanderbilt.

Your thoughts?

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