Maui Championship Pregame: Illinois vs Butler, Wednesday, November 21th, 9:00pm CT, ESPN

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#51
One remark I heard consistently about North Carolina last night is that they didn't seem to play maturely. I feel like Illinois has been, and even though they've had spurts where they can't seem to score the ball, I think they can defend well enough to put the skids on Butler's attack.

Illinois 78
Jeeves 69
 
#52
There is no way Groce uses the "he turned you down" thing as motivation. Everything I've seen from Groce is selling opportunity, not looking backwards. Also, he and Stevens are good friends.
 
#53
Maui Invitational Day 2 roundup

Illinois continued its impressive run in the tournament with an 84-61 win over local underdogs Chaminade on Tuesday. The Illini got balanced scoring -- Brandon Paul scored 13 points, D.J. Richardson had 11 and Joseph Bertrand 14. The Illini are off to a 5-0 start, but they haven't really been tested yet. Butler should give them everything they can handle and will be the favorites to win it all after dominating North Carolina. But don't count out Illinois. The team is playing with a lot more aggressiveness and discipline under new head coach John Groce. It has a terrific backcourt in Richardson, Paul and Abrams and size up front.

A win in the tournament will be a huge boon to the Illini's confidence. They aren't in the same class as Big Ten elite teams such as Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State, but they, along with Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, may be a very tough outs in the league. I won't be surprised if the Big Ten gets eight teams into the NCAA tournament this season.

Chad Ford
 
#54
Captain 'Paign
Phoenix, AZ
To be honest, I would have rather faced UNC. One, because of name recognition, and two, because I honestly think we would have had a better chance to win. But maybe it's better this way. We will be truly tested for the first time this season. They know going in that this will be by far their toughest test so far and that they will have to prepare for it, because Coach Groce and the team KNOW that Brad Stevens will have his team prepared for them. That's why he's a good coach who's gotten Butler to back-to-back NC games.

I see this being a very hard fought battle, and possibly our toughest game of the non-con season. That said, they beat a talented, ranked team and we haven't, so knowing little about where we rank relatively, I can only go by what I know and what I know is that we've beaten several bad teams and came down to the wire against a so-so team in Hawaii, so...

Butler - 69
Illinois - 65
 
#55
I have already seen a different mentality. While tonight's matchup might show some things that we have not yet seen, I have already seen a new approach for these guys.

1.). They are not playing scared.
2.). They ARE having fun.
3.). They DO believe in the system.

While they might NOT win tonight, this is a different team of the same guys.
We all think this, but you don't really know until you face a team that will play you physically. This is going to be much more like a Big 10 opponent in terms of style. We'll learn a lot tonight, I think.
 
#58
Well, as they said last night, the Illini have looked the most impressive out of the rest of the field, so I can see why. Then again, they have faced some weak competition, so who knows?
 
#59
There is no way Groce uses the "he turned you down" thing as motivation. Everything I've seen from Groce is selling opportunity, not looking backwards. Also, he and Stevens are good friends.
Actually, I agree with that. However, I think the players might feel some of that motivation on their own.
 
#60
Banned
Alabama
Well, as they said last night, the Illini have looked the most impressive out of the rest of the field, so I can see why. Then again, they have faced some weak competition, so who knows?
I don't know - last night in addition to Chaminade, they also faced the refs and the Amazing Flopping Hu and still came out good.
 
#63
UI 72
Butler 64

Butler expended more energy today than we did. Will be interesting to see if they come out a little flat after upsetting UNC. And none of our starters played big minutes today, so, though a little tired, we should have more energy than them.
These are 19-20 year old kids that are used to playing multiple games/day on the AAU circuit. I think the 'fresh legs' thing is a little overblown. Both teams will be ready to play. It will come down to who hits their 3's and who gets the loose balls. Hope it's us! :thumb:
 
#66
I don't see how this can be an 8-10 point win for us. If the Illini are shooting 50% or even 69% at times like in the last two games, then things will be going their way. If there is a time when we can't get shots to fall we could dig ourselves into a bit of a hole, which would be a real test for this team. Of course, they came back against Hawaii, but I think Butler is a much better team than that.

Butler 73
Illinois 71
 
#67
I watched the Bulter Xavier game and thought Butler was going to be down this year. Then I watched them last night and they had done a 180. This should be a good game. Looking foward to it.
 
#68
I'm not sure why people keep saying the Illini haven't been punched in the mouth or that this will be their first "real test." We were down by 16 against Hawaii and had to hit a game winning 3 to beat them. Butler is definitely a better team than Hawaii, but I do think we'll rise to the occasion and make this an exciting game.
 
#69
There is no way Groce uses the "he turned you down" thing as motivation. Everything I've seen from Groce is selling opportunity, not looking backwards. Also, he and Stevens are good friends.
At least not publicly. He may do it in private and people keep making this point about them being good friends. Groce is still going to want to kick Stevens !!! no matter how good of friends they are.
 
#70
Banned
Peoria, IL
This would be an exceedingly nice game to win for a number of obvious reasons.

But it would be really nice to go home for 3 (seemingly) easily winnable games against Gardner-Webb, Georgia Tech, and Norfolk St.

Winning this game has us 9-0 heading to Spokane on December 8th.
If the last few seasons haven't taught us enough about counting wins before they happen, I don't know what will.

I think we beat Butler tonight.
 
#71
Well, as they said last night, the Illini have looked the most impressive out of the rest of the field, so I can see why. Then again, they have faced some weak competition, so who knows?
Yes, the competition does seem to be weak; however, the two teams we beat have each won their other games (so far).
 
#72
These are 19-20 year old kids that are used to playing multiple games/day on the AAU circuit. I think the 'fresh legs' thing is a little overblown. Both teams will be ready to play. It will come down to who hits their 3's and who gets the loose balls. Hope it's us! :thumb:
Playing in an AAU game where no one plays defense is completely different from playing a college basketball game. 3 games in 3 days is a huge grind for any athlete. I'm convinced we'll be able to control the game with our pace and eventually wear Butler down. I don't think they have the athletes to run with us up and down the court.
 
#74
We have better athletes and seniors leading our team. Let's stop this nonsense tonight and remind the country that Butler is a mid-major and why we're a high major. And if we can't do that, then we still have a long way to go. I prefer that we thump them. HAMMER DOWN!
 
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