That was a really weird scene at the beginning of the Illinois – Air Force game last night when there was hardly anyone besides the teams’ pep bands in the arena at tip-off because the game’s ticketholders hadn’t been let in yet. This was a result of a food cart that some bomb-sniffing dogs thought was suspicious. It looked like the Illini and Falcons were playing an intramural game at IMPE.
Anyway, when the crowd finally filed in, everyone was treated to Air Force’s Princeton offense that maddeningly produced wide open three-point shots for them. Fortunately, the Illini were able to counter with Jamar Smith’s own long-range capabilities to win 78-69 and advance to a tough second-round date with the Washington Huskies on Saturday. Some takes on last night’s game:
1) Big Ten Wonk – Noted that the score was particularly high considering that Air Force aims to slow down the game to where the score is as low as possible.
2) Rick Morrissey (Chicago Tribune) – Description of the weird circumstances all around with the game.
3) Jay Mariotti (Chicago Sun-Times) – Points out that the Illini need to get more scoring from their entire group if they want to advance.
4) Wayne Drehs (ESPN.com) – Nice ESPN review of Jamar Smith’s performance last night.
5) Bryan Burwell (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) – Illini Nation has reason to smile a little bit.
As for the rest of the NCAA Tournament field, I hope you listened to me regarding Syracuse – Texas A&M and ignored me on the Orange’s fellow Big East washouts Seton Hall and Marquette. San Diego State was hitting everything last night; fortunately for Indiana, the Aztecs couldn’t play defense. Out of all the upcoming second round matchups on Saturday, I’m most sure of the Hoosiers taking out Gonzaga. The Bulldogs’ struggles against Xavier yesterday weren’t an accident – Gonzaga is one of the most overrated teams I’ve seen in a long time.
Enjoy the games this weekend and GO ILLINI!