So, How We Doin'? Arizona
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I just let the dog out and it's warm. 64 degrees at 12:15 am on December 11th in Champaign. This was supposed to be "Arizona players get to Champaign and freeze while walking from the hotel to the bus". 64 degrees? What's the deal with 64 degrees?
Actually, scrolling through the forecast page here, that's something that might still come true. It's supposed to drop 30 degrees between now and 10:00 am. So maybe the Arizona players will, in fact, have frozen hands when the game starts. Advantage, Illinois.
("Advantage, Illinois" he says when his team has three guys from Puerto Rico and one guy from Jamaica. And I could keep going. Grandison is from Oakland. Payne from Florida. Hawkins from Sacramento. Trent from Florida. Man, we really are a warm climate team. I think Podziemski is the only guy from a climate colder than Champaign.)
This has been Weather Thoughts With Robert for a game being played indoors.
I'm not sure I have a feel for this one (just cut-and-paste that into every one of these "basketball SOC" posts this winter). I'm afraid to trust, I think. Once Curbelo is back (and once Curbelo is back to being Curbelo), I think I'm always going to be heistant with this team. Cincinnati really did a number on me.
Of course, I might have done it again with my tweet late in the UTRGV game. "Done it again" referring to the Penn State game last season. Let's recap.
Last season we lose that awful game at Missouri. Then we go to Rutgers and blow double digit lead as Rutgers comes roaring back to win. I spend three days bunkered in a hotel room on the east coast waiting for the Penn State game and then drive back to State College. The game starts and... Illinois is suddenly down 19-4. December had seen a loss to Baylor, a loss to Missouri, a loss to Rutgers, and then it's 19-4 Penn State. I tweeted the following during the timeout after 19-4:
*hovers over "maybe we're just not that good?" button*— Robert Rosenthal (@ALionEye) December 23, 2020
From that point forward, onward and upward. We outscored Penn State 94-62 the rest of that game. Had two blips in mid-January against Maryland and Ohio State plus Sisoko breaking Ayo's nose at MSU but from 19-4 Penn State until the end of the BTT, we went 18-3. Heh - just thought about it: if you count Drexel and The Game We Will Not Mention, we were down 19-4 to Penn State and then went 19-4 the rest of the way.
I'd like to think that I did the same thing during the UGRTV game on November 26th. We lost to Marquette, we were blown out by Cincinnati, we struggled to put away Kansas State, and then we were tied with UTRGV with something like 2:49 on the clock. Tied. With the artist formerly known as Texas-Pan American.
So I tweeted this:
Just taking in this entire season to this point - opening tip of the season until 2:30 left in the UTRGV game - I’m just in total shock at what I’ve seen. Injuries or not - living a nightmare.— Robert Rosenthal (@ALionEye) November 27, 2021
From that point forward, we outscored UTRGV 12-3 to close out the game, we beat Notre Dame by 10, Rutgers by 35, and won at Iowa 87-83. Woke up from the nightmare, I guess.
So do we keep the good vibes rolling tomorrow? Even without Curbelo? Facing #11 Arizona?
I think I'm going to just blindly say "yes" and then go to bed. Arizona has been solid so far, but they've played exactly one road game (at 1-8 Oregon State who, uh, lost a lot from their Elite Eight team last year). This is Arizona's first true road test. First true road environment. First sold-out crowd. First time they'll have that "I can't even hear myself think" moment.
So I'm going with a win. Gonna be a battle, but the season spun on the last 2:47 of the UTRGV game. That was the turning point, and this momentum will continue with a win over #11.
Illinois 81, Arizona 77