Last October, sometime after Game 6 of the NLCS, right after my baseball high had crashed back down to earth (Damn you, Roy Oswalt!), I began to look forward to the upcoming College Basketball season. Actually, I looked forward to it until I remembered that the Illini squad had lost Deron Williams, Luther Head, Roger Powell, and Jack Ingram. Those subtractions to the Illini did not make me happy (Nick Smith finally leaving, on the other hand, made me ecstatic.)

Before the season began, I said I'll be happy if Illinois wins 20 games. And I will be damn impressed if they win 25 and make the Sweet 16.

But for the 972nd time this year, I am reminded why I don't bet too heavily on sports: Because I apparently have no fucking clue what I'm talking about.

Going into tonight's game, the Illini are 19 and 2. Nineteen and two. From a team that I (and I wasn't alone on this, either) did not honestly think would break 25 wins. Bruce Weber... Damn, that man can coach.

Tonight, the Illini go for sole possession of first place in the Big Ten as they face off against the Badgers of Wisconsin in Madison. The Kohl center was formerly one of the more intimidating places for a team to play at (but not for an 18-year old to see a Phish concert in.) That, of course, was before last January when the Fighting Illini rolled into Madison and beat the Badgers on their own floor, snapping their 38-game home winning streak in the process.

Lately, The Grateful Red has been a little less boisterous and the Badgers have been much less than their formerly unbeatable selves at home, as evidenced by a loss recently to the Bisons of North Dakota State.

[side bar - One of my favorite moments of my recent trip to Mexico was sitting pool side on Sunday afternoon, reading the sports section of the Miami Herald (which for some reason is the paper of record in Mexico) when I came across the college scores and needed to relay the news to Lionel Hutz, Illini alum and fanatic, who was sitting across the pool from me.
Me: "Hey! Wisconsin lost...At Home!"
Hutz: "To who?"
Me: "North Dakota Fucking State!"
Some Drunk Redneck Woman from West Virginia Who Was Sitting In The Pool Drinking: "Wha!?! North Dakota State? Big Ten sucks."]

So tonight, at 6 pm, I'll have the TV tuned to ESPN, as I watch the Illini try to advance to 6-2 in conference play and gain sole possession of the conference lead.

I suggest you do the same (unless, of course, the Illini wears orange and Wisconsin wears red; something which happened not too long ago and caused me to get a motion-sick like feeling while watching the game. If that happens again, you should just catch the highlights on Sportscenter or something.)

[Today's Illini fun factoid: Since leaving Illinois prior to the 2003-04 season for a more prestigious school, Bill Self has gone 61-22 while coaching the Kansas Jayhawks. Bruce Weber, during the same time span at Illinois, has gone 82-11. Also, Bruce Weber is not a huge douche. Bill Self is.]


Self is a douche. Kansas blows.
Try watching Wisconsin and Illinois live when they are wearing orange and red. I had 2 seizures in 90 minutes. Self blows and Lon Kruger swallows. Would someone get me a fucking Jager shot!

-al reyes
Alex I might not be an Illini fan (hence I went to Mizzou) but one thing we can agree on is that Bill Self can suck my tit! I am glad that Illinois did great after he left and that we have beaten the shit out of Kansas lately. And that is all I have to say about that.
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