Pregame: Illinois at Wisconsin, Saturday, February 27th, 1:00pm CT, ESPN

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#78      
In some ways Illinois is more dangerous without Ayo because there is no script. Not sure how the game will turn out but I will be looking at free throw shooting and inside scoring as key indicators.
 
#79      
In some ways Illinois is more dangerous without Ayo because there is no script. Not sure how the game will turn out but I will be looking at free throw shooting and inside scoring as key indicators.

My dad actually said this when I was on the phone with him last night. Of course, the one variable is if our guys still have the confidence and cohesion necessary to hit the shots and pull out the win late without him. Obviously, we all wish he was out there, but let’s win one for him!
 
#80      
Dating back to Northwestern last season, Illinois has won its last 7 games in return B1G matchups. Today could snap that streak.

Fortunately, this is our second game without Ayo and not our first. I expect us to come out much faster than we did against Nebby.

Everyone now has experience in their Ayo-less role and it’s fresh in our muscle memory due to the quick turnaround.

Our team adopts the attitude of BU’s hyped up (and accurate, looking at you B1G office) “us against everyone” mentality.

We will be ready to play, but will we have the stamina to maintain the level of play needed to win at Kohl Center?

Win or lose today, I’ll be proud of the guys. A loss doesn’t kill us, but a win would do wonders for our confidence in the immediate. Not to mention a peer into the future and fan optimism not seen since 2002/2003.

The parallels are certainly there for the 2021/2022 Illini: lose your stud (Frank/Ayo), but have a solid young core incoming (Dee and crew/Belo & Ace), and a stud B1G POY candidate (Cook/Kofi (please?) to anchor the squad.

Took the optimistic approach this morning. It was a lot more enjoyable to the alternative. Excited for 1pm to get here.
 
#81      
Paducah, Ky
One of many issues of Ayo not playing is this is a road game, versus us playing first game at home against Nebby.....
Wonder if ayo is traveling with the team or getting treatment, etc
 
#82      
I think in some ways we are playing with house money. We have a very good team and will be well prepared going to the tournament. I'm going to enjoy the game today and watch the young guys get better and see if we can pull out a win
 
#83      
Thinking this may be another game like MSU score wise. Opening a beer early to stay optimistic. I L L
 
#84      
I’m just focused on how many minutes the reserves will get when we’re up 30 with 10 minutes left.
 
#88      
The number has moved to -5, but more interesting to me is the money line for the Illini is +180. That seems juicy to me. Anyone think Kofi and Giorgi in at same time would present some difficult matchups for the Badgers?

I've never claimed to be a basketball expert (was a baseball guy), but as someone who at least has watched a lot of college basketball ... I guess I don't get why we don't do this more often. Last year, Giorgi was still learning his role with Kofi in the mix. This year? I think he's adjusted comfortably, all things considered. Throw those two in there and free up some shots for Miller, Frazier and Williams!

Also, if Curbelo can hit the gym and these younger guys can do the 2005 Illini offseason three point shooting plan, we could be REALLY good in a few years (provided recruiting can keep up). Imagine a junior Curbelo who has ironed out some of the TO issues and is someone you actually have to watch when he has an open three. :oops: Anyway, my head says we play well but end up fading a bit in the second half, only to not-quite-come-back in the final minutes and lose by 6-7. However, my heart says that the young guns step up and win us a HUGE win without Ayo:

#5 Illinois 71
#23 Wisconsin 69

If we can pull this out, I will become even more excited for our NCAA Tournament capabilities ... maybe this was a blessing in disguise that will allow us to learn to play with more consistency (i.e., if Ayo or Kofi isn't feeling it in the Sweet Sixteen, no problem, we have tons of weapons ready to go!). I agree with the previous comment on playing with house money here - I am just tuning in with very little stress and excitement and the possibility that we have a good enough team to possibly win in Madison without our NPOY candidate. Go Illini!

P.S. A win today would mark our first three-game winning streak vs. the Badgers since we swept all three games in the 2005 season, ending with beating them in the BTT Championship Game. :oops:
 
#89      
I think it was telling that BU said in his presser that these are meaningless games. I am sure that is a shot at Mich and the B10 for their lack of urgency regarding making up games. I am sure internally BU is pushing the team to win these last three. Sitting Ayo today is a good move. Perhaps we can get him back for mich and osu and we can get a one seed in ncaa with two wins there no matter what happens today. If we were to somehow win out and mich loses one to MSU, we would be 16-4 and mich 14-3. How could you give mich the regular season title by win% when they didn’t play all the games? We have to assume that they would have won out to go 17-3 since their win % says so? Thus the BU meaningless game comment. They would have to give us a share at least for winning the most games I would think.
 
#91      
Without Ayo of course they’ll double/triple team Kofi. We will need someone to step up and for Kofi to PASS out of those
 
#92      
Rockford, IL
The number has moved to -5, but more interesting to me is the money line for the Illini is +180. That seems juicy to me. Anyone think Kofi and Giorgi in at same time would present some difficult matchups for the Badgers?
Absolutely. Only if Giorgi brings though. Guy always seems to be off in lala land. Wish he had a mean streak at game time. He has so much ability.
 
#93      
My dad actually said this when I was on the phone with him last night. Of course, the one variable is if our guys still have the confidence and cohesion necessary to hit the shots and pull out the win late without him. Obviously, we all wish he was out there, but let’s win one for him!
Ayo and Kofi are an effective pair, but I hope they put Curbelo in with Kofi. The hook pass Belo made to Kofi last game was unreal. More of that please
 
#94      
Looks like Ayo may have made the trip. Looks like he’s in a hotel room on ESPN
 
#97      
Talked about his family, pumped up the team and our depth, joked about how he has to pay his sister $5 for every missed FT. Just came across very likable and represented the beloved very well.
 
#98      
Rockford, IL
Talked about his family, pumped up the team and our depth, joked about how he has to pay his sister $5 for every missed FT. Just came across very likable and represented the beloved very well.
Thank you, I appreciate it. Any insight on his return?
 
#100      
If kofi doesn’t have 15 plus shots today that’s coaching malpractice
If Wisconsin didn't learn from MSU about collapsing 3 guys on Kofi then that is also coaching malpractice. Kofi doesn't seem capable of handling an extra defender and finding the open man.
 
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