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Big Ten Power Rankings: Illinois #2 (12/21)

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Old Dec 21, 2012, 07:53 AM   #1
Dan
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2. Illinois: It does not make me an Illinois "hater" (haterz!) to assume that the Illini will not finish above Ohio State and Indiana through the rest of the college hoops season. I mean, I'm ready to have my perceptions altered and all, but even at 12-0 the Illini haven't been playing as well on a per-possession basis as many of the teams now sitting below them in my rankings. And, you know, so what? John Groce's team is still shooting the ball well enough from the perimeter to keep all those attempts looking like the right strategy, and Brandon Paul is still playing well, and the Illini beat Butler on a neutral floor (cough, Indiana) and Gonzaga at the Kennel. I think Illinois is probably the fourth- or fifth-best team in the league by February. But right now, it would be a disservice to move Illinois any lower than this.

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Old Dec 21, 2012, 08:47 AM   #2
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Finally - someone making a ranking based on their actual resume, and not the perception of supposed weaknesses that the team has been able to play through and still win with.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 09:04 AM   #3
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Finally - someone making a ranking based on their actual resume, and not the perception of supposed weaknesses that the team has been able to play through and still win with.

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Old Dec 21, 2012, 11:13 AM   #4
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Why does he have to give us the backhanded compliment?

"I'm just putting Illinois here because I have to, but I still think they finish 5th or worse". If that's how he feels (which is fine) then just rank us 5th and spare the verbiage.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 11:16 AM   #5
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Why does he have to give us the backhanded compliment?

"I'm just putting Illinois here because I have to, but I still think they finish 5th or worse". If that's how he feels (which is fine) then just rank us 5th and spare the verbiage.
That's what I was thinking too. If you're going to rank a team 2, but you spend your entire explanation explaining why you think they'll actually finish 4th or 5th, don't even bother.

But I will say this: I would rather have someone rank us 2nd, and figure we'll finish 4 or 5 than to have someone rank us 9th at this time and figure we'll finish in the bottom half of the BiG.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 11:17 AM   #6
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Finally - someone making a ranking based on their actual resume, and not the perception of supposed weaknesses that the team has been able to play through and still win with.
It is nice to get recognition. However, I think, just keep things running as usual. Regardless of what is going on, when it works, who cares.

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Old Dec 21, 2012, 11:38 AM   #7
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He was simply explaining the basis for his ranking, and that is not an unreasonable basis. There are two ways to rank teams right now: how good their record is and how good you think they will be over the course of the season based on what you have seen of their play so far.

He is saying that based on our record right now we are the second best team in the B1G. That's a valid ranking. He is also saying that given what he has actually seen of the various teams, he feels that over the long haul UI will not be able to maintain this kind of win/loss performance. Again, that is not an unreasonable opinion.

Most of the rankings are dubious right now anyway because very few teams are playing a schedule remotely like what they will be facing in few weeks, and none of the B1G teams are doing so. In almost every case, any tough games are cushioned by games that are far easier than most of what one can expect in the B1G.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 11:54 AM   #8
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People can complain about the fact that Illinois shoots too many threes. However, they also have to take into account that on two-point baskets, Illinois as a team is shooting 52.3% overall. Consider that combined with the fact that we have a relatively weak inside scoring game. Sam and Egwu don't shoot better than 50% between them. This means the guards must be shooting out of their minds from 2. I ran the numbers and here is what I came up with.

Player 2P%
Brandon Paul 0.542857143
Tracy Abrams 0.525
D.J. Richardson 0.444444444
Tyler Griffey 0.536585366 (!)
Joseph Bertrand 0.674418605 (!!)
Nnanna Egwu 0.446153846
Sam McLaurin 0.476190476
Myke Henry 0.346153846
Mike LaTulip 1
Devin Langford 0.333333333
Mike Shaw 0
Kevin Berardini (hasn't taken any twos)
Ibby Djimde 0

All data sourced here: http://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/...nois/2013.html

So even if they don't take threes, they're taking very good shots overall on the season. Tyler's numbers surprised me the most because he doesn't get to the hoop very often. That means on his midrange shots he's hitting at a pretty stellar clip.

By the way, Joe's overall shooting is 60.6%. If there was one guy who needed to shoot it more than he already has, it's JoeB.

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Old Dec 21, 2012, 11:56 AM   #9
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That's what I was thinking too. If you're going to rank a team 2, but you spend your entire explanation explaining why you think they'll actually finish 4th or 5th, don't even bother.

But I will say this: I would rather have someone rank us 2nd, and figure we'll finish 4 or 5 than to have someone rank us 9th at this time and figure we'll finish in the bottom half of the BiG.
These are "power rankings", which means "how teams are doing right now", not a prediction of where they'll finish.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 12:01 PM   #10
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Why does he have to give us the backhanded compliment?

"I'm just putting Illinois here because I have to, but I still think they finish 5th or worse". If that's how he feels (which is fine) then just rank us 5th and spare the verbiage.
Man, talk about damned if you do, damned if you don't - everyone on this board has been wailing for someone to use this exact rationale, and when someone finally does, we call it a backhanded compliment.

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Old Dec 21, 2012, 12:31 PM   #11
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By the way, Joe's overall shooting is 60.6%. If there was one guy who needed to shoot it more than he already has, it's JoeB.
Here is the thing, though. If he were to shoot more often, the shots might not be as good and his percent will go down. If people shot only shots that they thought would go in, I am pretty sure everyone's shooting percentage would go up.

I am not sure I made my point very well, but, hopefully people understand what I am trying to say.

I am trying to say that if JB shoots more, his percent probably will not stay that high.

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Old Dec 21, 2012, 12:38 PM   #12
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These are "power rankings", which means "how teams are doing right now", not a prediction of where they'll finish.
?

I understand that.

If he thinks we're the #2 team in the BiG right now, he should explain why in his explanation, instead of explaining why we won't be in the future.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 12:39 PM   #13
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Here is the thing, though. If he were to shoot more often, the shots might not be as good and his percent will go down. If people shot only shots that they thought would go in, I am pretty sure everyone's shooting percentage would go up.

I am not sure I made my point very well, but, hopefully people understand what I am trying to say.

I am trying to say that if JB shoots more, his percent probably will not stay that high.
Yep, Langford and Shaw are perfect from the 3 point line, but that would not be the case if they shot several per game.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 01:07 PM   #14
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Not to defend him at all, but I think he feels like he needs to explain the casual basketball fans why a team that was supposed to finish 10th is ranked 2nd. I completely agree with what all of you are saying; don't rank us 2nd then go on to explain why we'll finish 5th. But to an average basketball fan, who's used to seeing Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan up at the top for quite a while now, he needs to sort of justify to them why Illinois deserves to be there. Of course we know why our team deserves to be there, but to the average basketball fan in, say, California, maybe they haven't watched a game of ours yet, and are still sort of surprised to see us ranked that highly.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 01:25 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by lstewart53x3 View Post
?

I understand that.

If he thinks we're the #2 team in the BiG right now, he should explain why in his explanation, instead of explaining why we won't be in the future.
I'm really getting tired of reading it. It's like the media is sitting there with their fingers over their keyboards ready to type when we lose our first game "I TOLD YOU THEY WEREN'T GOOD, I TOLD YOU!!!!!!!!". If we win this game it will be some other explanation 'well even though they have beaten 3 ranked teams: two on a neutral court and one on the road all by double figures(assuming we beat Mizzou by double figures, they'll still find some way to doubt us. I feel like we aren't allowed to lose a game. If you read that ESPN insider article it's more of the same instead of giving us credit there's all kinds of doubt.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 01:32 PM   #16
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I'm really getting tired of reading it. It's like the media is sitting there with their fingers over their keyboards ready to type when we lose our first game "I TOLD YOU THEY WEREN'T GOOD, I TOLD YOU!!!!!!!!". If we win this game it will be some other explanation 'well even though they have beaten 3 ranked teams: two on a neutral court and one on the road all by double figures(assuming we beat Mizzou by double figures, they'll still find some way to doubt us. I feel like we aren't allowed to lose a game. If you read that ESPN insider article it's more of the same instead of giving us credit there's all kinds of doubt.
Hahaha yeah they'll definitely keep doubting us.

Honestly though, it is reasonable. They've watched how we have struggled the last couple of years and how we got out to a nearly identical start last year, only to watch us come crashing down.

I understand why some haven't bought in yet. I just don't think they should write an explanation for putting at 2, which only includes talking about why we won't be 2 come this time next month.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 01:34 PM   #17
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I'm really getting tired of reading it. It's like the media is sitting there with their fingers over their keyboards ready to type when we lose our first game "I TOLD YOU THEY WEREN'T GOOD, I TOLD YOU!!!!!!!!". If we win this game it will be some other explanation 'well even though they have beaten 3 ranked teams: two on a neutral court and one on the road all by double figures(assuming we beat Mizzou by double figures, they'll still find some way to doubt us. I feel like we aren't allowed to lose a game. If you read that ESPN insider article it's more of the same instead of giving us credit there's all kinds of doubt.
Especially if we win and hit 10+ 3's! The narrative will be, how long can Illinois shoot like this, despite being 13-0, beating 3 solid tourney teams (2 ranked in the top 12), and shooting like "this" for a third of the season!
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 01:40 PM   #18
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Especially if we win and hit 10+ 3's! The narrative will be, how long can Illinois shoot like this, despite being 13-0, beating 3 solid tourney teams (2 ranked in the top 12), and shooting like "this" for a third of the season!
Lol there are a lot of narratives espn could use:

1.) Illinois hit a ton of 3's against Mizzou and that won't keep happening.

2.) Brandon Paul went off 30+ points, and he won't do that every game.

3.) Joe Bertrand scored 20+ and he doesn't average near that many points a game.

4.) Missouri doesn't have Dixon anymore, so they're probably overrated, lets wait and see how Illinois does through the BiG season before say they're the real deal.

We could probably go on and on lol : )

I do think that if we win this game, most of the media will buy into Illinois though. I don't think there is any sort of mass bias against us.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 01:46 PM   #19
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There are signs the media is coming along already. Win this game and I think we will be legit for them. A close loss should do the same but doubt it will. There will always be those who are waiting to pounce on failure regardless of the circumstances. I don't think anyone thinks we should run the table but past experience plants the seeds of doubt. As they say, Fool me once ........
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 02:00 PM   #20
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Sometimes you just have to take the complements in spite of how they're expressed. We know we haven't felt the wrath of the B1G conference games yet and will probably lose a few before it's over. Yet, it's good to enjoy a sense of accomplishment compared to last year's stressed-out season that took a nose dive - and I don't foresee that happening this year.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 03:05 PM   #21
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Lol there are a lot of narratives espn could use:

1.) Illinois hit a ton of 3's against Mizzou and that won't keep happening.

2.) Brandon Paul went off 30+ points, and he won't do that every game.

3.) Joe Bertrand scored 20+ and he doesn't average near that many points a game.

4.) Missouri doesn't have Dixon anymore, so they're probably overrated, lets wait and see how Illinois does through the BiG season before say they're the real deal.

We could probably go on and on lol : )

I do think that if we win this game, most of the media will buy into Illinois though. I don't think there is any sort of mass bias against us.
5.) We won so easily that Missouri must be overrated.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 05:35 PM   #22
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Man, talk about damned if you do, damned if you don't - everyone on this board has been wailing for someone to use this exact rationale, and when someone finally does, we call it a backhanded compliment.
First off, I doubt everyone on this board was in consensus about it.

Second, what exact rationale are you talking about? Everyone on the board wanted someone to rank us #2 based on resume but also say that we are actually the 5th best team?

I want us to be ranked where these guys honestly think we should be ranked. If they think 1 loss OSU/IU/UM are better than us, then just say so. I don't think its such a stretch to think that a 1 loss team is any better or worse than an undefeated team. This isn't football.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 06:27 PM   #23
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I don't understand how anyone could have a problem with what Brennan said. We were an absolute train wreck last year. We lost our best player. We added virtually no one. Our best player is known for being streaky. Everyone's favorite mantra is "live by the 3, die by the 3," and that is our exact style of play. We have given every analyst reasons to doubt us, and I don't blame any single one of them.

C'mon guys, we are 12 games into the season. It has gone so much better than I could've imagined, but we have earned nothing yet. The great thing about college basketball is we will get plenty of chances to prove we are a top ten team if that's what we really are. I'm ridiculously excited for Saturday and for the Big Ten season, but let's not get carried away. I can't say this enough, we haven't earned anything yet.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 07:19 PM   #24
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There are signs the media is coming along already. Win this game and I think we will be legit for them. A close loss should do the same but doubt it will. There will always be those who are waiting to pounce on failure regardless of the circumstances. I don't think anyone thinks we should run the table but past experience plants the seeds of doubt. As they say, Fool me once ........
I think this is very true. Not just for the Illini basketball team, or even Illini teams in general. I think it is a societal thing.

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Old Dec 21, 2012, 07:40 PM   #25
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Jay Bilas was criticizing us even through the elite eight in 2005 for all of the threes. "Not a balanced offense", if you recall. The criticism doesn't matter if you get results.

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