Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Illini and Da Bears

Not much happening with the Illini this week since they don't play again until Saturday. However, be sure to check out's new power rankings, which have the Illini ranked 5th, as well as ESPN's power 16, which has Illinois as a #2 seed. Check out the comments there as well--I definitely think Illinois will be ready for Michigan on Saturday. Surprised about the comment that Iowa has the nation's toughest D. I haven't checked to see if that is statistically accurate or just a subjective comment. If it is right, then I guess I didn't realize Iowa's D was quite that good. Anyone out there know for sure?

Also, here are the so-called (and I DO MEAN SO-CALLED) ESPN experts top 16s. I was just about to give Andy Katz a hard time for having Illinois at #11. Then, I saw that Doug Gottlieb doesn't even have the Illini in this top 16!!! Are you kidding me? Maybe you don't put them at 6 or 7 or even 11, but not in your top 16? That is ridiculous and completely takes away any credibility he might have. Thumbs down to Gottlieb. (NOTE: Gottlieb has now updated his list and has Illinois at #11. Not sure if it was a mistaken omission by him earlier or a mistake by ESPN as they updated their website. Either way, somebody came to their senses.).

Also, on the recruiting front, you may have been hearing some things about a player by the name of Patrick Beverly. He plays for Chicago Marshall, which is currently the #1 ranked team in Chicago, and has put up some outstanding numbers. In addition, he is considered by most basketball experts to be the top uncommitted senior in the state. You may have read some of our past commentary about another player by the name of Sheron Collins, who is widely considered to be one of the top guards in the country. Beverly outplayed Collins and led his team to victory in a recent matchup. You can't judge a player on one game but I think that was definitely a statement game for him. Beverly has both some positives and some negatives, which Mark Tupper details today. I trust Weber's decision on whether or not to offer a scholarship to the kid but he sounds very interesting to me. Beyond Tupper, I have heard several times that he is a kid who plays hard all the time and I think that type of player can really develop at Illinois. Plus, offering a scholarhip to an excellent player from the Chicago Public League and getting him to Illinois should be a real positive for the program in terms of making recruiting inroads for the future.

A couple other Big Ten items of note: Michigan State knocked off Indiana in East Lansing last night (thank you Spartans) and Penn State upset Northwestern in Evanston.

Now I know that this is a blog dedicated to all things Illini, but the Bears are back in the playoffs so please indulge me for a minute. They play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday and Chief and I want to wish them luck. We hope they go out and get a victory. Wouldn't it be great to see the Bears-Redskins in the NFC title game at Soldier Field? They have had some great battles over the years and I would love to see them face off again if they both manage to win this weekend. There is way too much media coverage for me to post links to it all here but my favorite Bears column for today comes from Mike Downey of the Tribune. I love players and teams that don't back down (my apologies if you have to log in to the Trib in order to read this but it is worth it). No wishy washy stuff. Kind of like Deron Williams early last year when he said, "I'd put us at #1...". I love it. Go Illini and Go Bears!

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