Why Not? SOC – Ohio State January 5, 2013
I don’t normally stream-of-consciousness before basketball games. Mostly because they’re not all on Saturdays, and Friday nights are just right for SOCing. But I’m going to the game tomorrow, which means I’m full of nervous energy tonight, which means an SOC post would be perfect right about now.
If you’re unfamiliar, the rules are as follows: No editing. No going back up to read what I just wrote. No going back to correct spelling errors. I simply type out what’s on my mind and post it. Here we go.
I think we match up well with Ohio State. I’m not sure how we contain Deshaun Thomas (can any team?) but they’re not that big, physical rebounding team that will give us fits. Like Minnesota. I’m much more worried about Minnesota than Ohio State. Man, it sounds insane to type that out.
If we lose tomorrow, yes, we’re probably starting 0-4 in the Big Ten. Which will take at least five wheels off the Groce Express for most fans. 0-4 after 13-1 would really sting.
Wait, would it? I guess that 0-4 includes the awful Purdue loss, so yes, it would really sting. But losses to #8 Ohio State, #9 Minnesota, and Wisconsin on the road – we’re all expecting to lose those, right? So would losing those games really “sting”?
Hmmm… this is difficult. Most Illini fans I know set the bar at “just try to find some way to get in the tournament this year”. That’s what would define success. Take a 17-15 team without their lottery pick and turn them into a tourney team and you’ve done a fantastic job in your first season, John Groce. A team picked 9th in the B1G that might make the tourney? A really fantastic job.
But all that went out the window the second both of Tyler’s back-to-back threes hit the net in Maui. And then a truck ran over it in the street when Brandon took over the game in Spokane. Just make the tourney? How about a protected seed?
Some of the national writers have seized this opportunity. Guys like Jeff Goodman have been all “I’m not sold on Illinois”. Yeah, Jeff? Even diehard Illini fans aren’t sold on Illinois. There was some article last week (Eamonn Brennan on ESPN?) that asked if our fanbase would be able to handle a “fall” to 9-9 in the Big Ten after a 13-1 start. Nearly every Illini fan I know would jump for joy at 9-9. 22-10 going into the Big Ten tournament? Pinch me.
For me, I picked out nine games I thought we would win. Get these nine, and here comes the tourney:
Now, after losing the first, we have to find another win (and with the way Iowa played Indiana at home, we probably have to find two). So…. Minnesota at home and? Ohio State? Indiana? Michigan? Yeah, the Big Ten is pretty good.
So a win tomorrow would go beyond “huge”. We’d be back on track for those nine wins, which means we’d be on track for a nine seed, which means every other win above that would be gravy. I like gravy.
And a win tomorrow would make another statement: a step towards returning The Hall to the place that it was in the early 2000′s – the place where we never lost. What was it – six home losses in the first five years of this decade? Something like that. Bring back those days. Bring back the House of Paign.
But something about the Purdue loss tells me we’re not going to start that journey tomorrow. Purdue lost to Bucknell, Oregon State, Eastern Michigan, and three others. And then they beat us. I just can’t in good conscience predict a win over Ohio State after that. If Purdue had one bad loss, maybe. But Purdue was 6-6. And we lost.
So tomorrow, unfortunately, I think we lose. Hot start, halftime lead, second half lull, Thomas is too much. 0-2 start, Groce realizes he has a long way to go to reach Matta, and we all start focusing on our probable 0-4 start and what it means.
Ohio State 74, Illinois 69