March 8, 2005
Back to Earth
I am so extremely pissed off right now, I can barely see straight. I had a nice little thing (when I say little I mean very long) written about why Illinois lost to Ohio State and the story of me picking this game as the hardest one for Illinois. Right as I went to click save, my computer decided it was time to freeze up and shut firefox down, leaving me in a rage with nothing to show for 75 minutes of research and writing. Now, because I'm not writing it all out again (sorry, I don't have the patience) you're getting the brief version.
All year I've said that Illinois won't be beat the first time a teams plays them. I've always said that if Illinois lost it would be to a good team that they were favored to beat and it would be the second time they played them and the game would be away from champaign. Thus, in the middle of January (right after the game at Northwestern to be exact) I circled the Ohio State game as the toughest for Illinois. My father is my witness, and he agreed with me (this matters because my father is the smartest sports mind I've ever met)
Ohio State had nothing to lose, not the NCAA tourney, not the Big Ten tourney, and they didn't have to worry about conference standings. They were the underdogs. Illinois had every bit of pressure on their shoulders. That said, Illinois lost this game, in short, because they didn't shoot very well at all. I'm gonna give them the benefit of the doubt and say it had a lot to do with Ohio State's defense. I'm guessing (I didn't see much of the game) but I think Ohio State played quite a bit of zone defense from the box score. Also, It seems like Ohio State managed to slow the game up a bit and didn't let Illinois get much going as far as the transistion game goes
Amazingly, Ohio State's offense actually played worse this time around, so maybe Illinois's defense was the highlight of the game from our side of it. The biggest thing to come from this game, though, was that Illinois's undefeated season is over. There's a fear that Ohio State will beat Illinois again next week. What I mean by this is that Illinois can't get down about this game and lose again because their confidence is shaken. However, I don't think Illinois will collapse now, they've proven that they are a mentally tough team. Hopefully, this shocked Illinois back into reality, and has given them the motivation to start another winning streak. A 9-game winning streak to be exact.