Never Forget

Mar 05, 2019

Sometimes I feel like I'm alone in my Northwestern hate. Here, I'll give you an example. On this two game home stand, I wanted to beat Northwestern way more than I want to beat Indiana. See what I mean? Your nearly unanimous reaction to that statement means that I'm pretty much alone in my Northwestern hate.

Why Northwestern hate? Well, two main reasons:

1) They're pretty much the only team that hates us back. Indiana fans... want to beat Purdue and still see Kentucky as a "rival". Missouri fans... hate Kansas. Iowa fans... want everyone to know that Iowa basketball has been totally underrated over the years and just because they lost to Northwestern State that one time doesn't mean they're some lowest-rung-on-the-ladder team I mean have you ever heard the name Roy Marble??

2) Northwestern has kind of dominated us this past decade. Yes, that Northwestern.

Here are the ugly statistics to back that up (which I tweeted yesterday):

Basketball all-time vs. Northwestern: 135-42.
Last 16 meetings: 8-8

Football all-time vs. Northwestern: 55-52-5
Last 16 meetings: 4-12

And to take that further, let's just look at the last 5+ years of basketball. Since Chris Collins took over in Evanston before the 2013/14 season.

Northwestern: 100-94, one NCAA Tournament appearance
Illinois: 99-99, zero NCAA Tournament appearances

(The reason Illinois has four more games played: Northwestern went 1-1 in the NCAA Tournament over this period; Illinois went 3-3 in the NIT.)

I haven't looked, but given that we have won 700 more games than Northwestern in the history of the two programs (1787 to 1087), I can nearly guarantee you won't be able to find a 200-game period where their record was better than our record. Like, ever.

I should pause to clarify something. The point here is not "look how good Northwestern has been under Chris Collins". They're putting the finishing touches on a perfect Bell Curve. Wins under Collins: 14-15-20-24-15-12. And then next year, with these three seniors gone (62% of their scoring), maybe 9-10 wins? Their stock has matched The Bluth Company at "don't buy".

So my point is not "Northwestern has passed us". They'll never pass us. My point is this: we're 8-8 in head-to-head basketball games recently, and 4-12 in football games, and even though we appear to be on an upward trajectory in basketball while they're dropping further, the current reality is a "never forget" thing for me. This cannot. ever. happen. again.

I mean, if we just go by head-to-head matchups since 1950 (a good marker for major conference teams since it weeds out games in the 20's when they were playing with actual peach baskets and such), Illinois is 87-27 against Northwestern in basketball games. We were 79-19, but we've somehow gone .500 against them the last 16 games. We were also 51-40-5 in football matchups. But now they're three wins away from tying the series.

The other thing I tweeted the other day in the midst of my "how was this Northwestern game in any way close?" freakout: this win broke a 739 day winless streak vs. Northwestern (football + basketball). Seven hundred and thirty nine days since we had last beaten our in-state rival. Which is, OK, fine, whatever, but it's the second time in five years we've gone through a streak like this. My tweet from February 2017:

It had been 710 days since we beat Northwestern in either football or basketball. Thank you, gentlemen. May it never happen again.

-- Robert (@ALionEye) February 8, 2017

"May it never happen again"? It happened again immediately following that win. The moment I tweeted that was the beginning of another streak.

This is why the Northwestern game means more to me than the Indiana game. This is why I check the Big Ten scores to make sure Northwestern lost, something my 90's-self used to do for Iowa. This is why their current collapse, on the heels of all that national fawning two years ago right now, is so tasty.

Basically, for me, it's this: I used to not care about Northwestern, but then they went and had a better decade than us in the 2010's, which was death to my "Northwestern? Who cares?" and brought about true hatred in my heart. Our battle with Rutgers and Oregon State for "worst P5 athletic department in the 2010's" means that we can no longer dismiss Northwestern with a hand-wave. As impossible as it would be to convince someone in a coma since 1990, Northwestern has a significantly better football program now and has played us dead-even in basketball the last five years (if not slightly ahead). This is our current reality.

Which I don't want to get lost. Yes, things are hopeful with this basketball team, mostly all freshmen and sophomores, looking for their eighth win in their last 13 games, but the moment we go claiming we're "back", we'll lose it and be right back down with Northwestern in the basement. The mistakes of the last 15 years led us here. This is how low we've sunk, and it will still take a Herculean effort to climb out of this hole. Until it's fixed, this is our current status.

Never forget.


ballislife17 on March 05 @ 05:23 PM CST

We have essentially switched spots on the big ten food chain with NW. I would say it's brutal, but since I've been a die-hard fan (2011), this is normal, and other fan bases laugh at us for citing games played in 1950 as relevant to anything. Next to no one reading this post was even born then.

Joe Edge on March 07 @ 12:39 PM CST

'Next to no one reading this post was even born then.'.... Hmmmmm ... On Roberts board, I wouldn't put too much money on that. You might lose. I remember those 50's teams quite well... And many others who read and post here are right in that category as well...

wesd2005 on March 05 @ 10:20 PM CST

You aren't alone in the hatred - although for me it is far worse in football. Our downfall in basketball is self inflicted, and is on the verge of being rectified (I hope). We should start stacking wins against them again.

I'm far more upset about the streak against Wisconsin. I still believe they are about to come back to normal pre-2000's level now that Bo is gone, but it will be a gradual fall.

CommanderW on March 06 @ 12:35 PM CST

I just don't see it with NU. Every time Beckman brought up "the purple team up North" I cringed. Just because we are playing like them recently, doesn't make them a rival. It just shows how sad we have been. Indiana showing up on potential bubble lists if they win out +1 in BTT list is far far far far worse than a team that very few, if any, people in Chicago care about. That obnoxious IU fan in the office next door that thinks their candy cane pants belong in the yeah, death to your program.

Illiniiniowa on March 06 @ 07:21 PM CST

F@$! Iowa.

IBFan on March 06 @ 11:24 PM CST

F@$! Iowa. Yep, no doubt. Pearl POS.

Candy Caners Cheaters. What is worse the IDKWTI last second disaster leading to the program with no elite point, missing a likely Sweet 16 - maybe two, and the downfall of Weber or the constant uppity smirking fans...?

And NW Kitties...oh about a bunch of sanctimonious, we play the game right, Elaine obsessed, screamy girl is awesome, Pat Fitzgerald legendary horse mouth, purple pieces of petrified cow dung...Uggggh!

Those three - is there anybody else that really bothers you when watching a game. I try and follow and root for all the Big10, even the newbs, but those three, those KETO crouch smells, hate them.

I'm done. Go Illini! Beat CCC!

DB50 on March 07 @ 06:59 AM CST

Like the two previous post, I say F*%# Iowa. I’ve had to live through the Bruce Pearl era, residing only 22 miles from Iowa City, enduring the smug abuse from some Swaukeye fans & scribes. I keep waiting for us to turn the corner & dominate them in FB & BB but I feel like Sisyphus, we never quite make it. I’ve been watching this horror movie since 1983!??

Joe Edge on March 07 @ 12:58 PM CST

Frankly, when thinking about rivals, I tend to divide it into categories: A) those that we should EXPECT to beat, and B) those that I want to beat badly. I feel that NW is a team that fits firmly in category A. We should beat them 99% of the time, and a team can't be a true 'rival' if I EXPECT that we SHOULD beat them every time.... IA, IN, and scUM are teams that I want to beat badly. IA because of Pearl and coach Tom, who I think were the biggest cheaters in the B1G (along with some other reasons attached to FB), IN because of RMK with his egotistical and incendiary personality, which seems to have rubbed off on many in their fanbase, and scUM because .... well the real reasons I want to Muck Fichigan go a lot deeper than just basketball and football, although these both contribute greatly to that hate.... Beating scUM makes me feel good all over.

thumpasaurus on March 08 @ 07:53 AM CST

The way I view Northwestern vs. Illinois is that each fanbase refuses to take the opposing team seriously.

For us, it's because (a) there are roughly 400 Northwestern fans (b) a suburbanite can get a higher-rated engineering degree from Illinois for less than half the cost (c) memories of their long-term or extreme ineptitude die hard (d) they can't even fill their tiny venues when they're good.

Can you name a single Illinois football team that lost to Northwestern that you'd call a good team?

You can't. That's because the only reason Illinois ever loses to Northwestern in football is because Illinois isn't good. It's never because Northwestern is a force to be reckoned with.

For them, they refuse to take us seriously because (a) who could after the decade we've had (b) condescending, elitist private school mentality that allows them to rationalize any loss to illinois with "that's alright that's okay you'll all work for us someday, see, we're not even trying that hard! it's funny because you are!" (c) building on (b), an insufferable dismissal of anyone living outside the suburbs of Chicago as backwards hicks that just don't get it

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