So, How We Doin'? Michigan
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I'm just dreading this game from every angle. There's nothing I like about it. Just want it to be over.
Let's begin last year in Ann Arbor. When I got to Crisler for that one, I found the media seating and asked the one usher if there was a seating chart. There's always a seating chart. He said "just sit wherever in the media seats". I was one of the first people there (imagine that), so I just picked a seat.
As it turned out, I picked a seat on the "Michigan side" of the press seating. I guess there's a Michigan side and a visiting media side, but I didn't know that, so I sat in someone's seat. I didn't realize this until I was surrounded by Michigan media all giving me a dirty look. Hey, fellas, I asked...
With Ayo not playing and Michigan at #2 (18-1 on the season), the Michigan media guys (like, the recruiting site guys and the bloggers who are all clearly pulling for Michigan) were discussing the game like it was already over. Dickinson was going to dominate Kofi. Franz was going to score 30. No Ayo, Illinois just lost to pitiful Michigan State - this one will be a bloodbath.
It was, just in the other direction. Illinois 76, Michigan 53. They were all completely shellshocked. The champagne was on ice, the confetti was ready to be dropped, the Big Ten Champs signs were printed - just beat Illinois and then cut down the nets. Two hours later they all sat there wondering what just happened.
I fear a What Just Happened game tomorrow night. Illinois fans are beyond cocky. Michigan is 7-6 and reeling. They just missed two games due to Covid and will be covered in rust. They might only have seven players cleared from Covid protocols (although we used the same smokescreen at Minnesota but then everyone played). The line is nearly double digits. This one feels like a walk in the park.
But is it? I know Michigan is reeling, but are we sure we're comfortable with this "Brad owns Juwan" narrative? Michigan wants revenge and we're all OK with the entire fanbase playing the "Kofi will completely dominate Dickinson" card? Everyone is fine with Illini Twitter looking like one big long @OldTakesExposed feed?
I mean, I was there. I saw Kofi hurt his ankle/foot at Minnesota. And then he just wasn't right at Nebraska. Maybe it's just a minor ankle or foot thing, but shouldn't we at least be a little concerned? He clearly wasn't right.
Maybe I should post that video again. Here's Kofi on the sideline at Minnesota after he hurt the ankle:
Kofi really favoring that foot/ankle. pic.twitter.com/B6Z5ZUZabE— Robert Rosenthal (@ALionEye) January 5, 2022
Maybe he's 100% now and I'm just worried about nothing. Maybe Plummer's slump was just the last two games and he returns to being an assassin tomorrow night. I'm prone to worry, so maybe I should just push my worries aside and enjoy Illinois extending the winning streak against Michigan.
But shouldn't we all maybe tone it down with the "this one won't even be close"? Yes, Michigan just lost to UCF and Rutgers, but at some point these two five-star freshmen are going to click and I don't want to be the opponent when they do. Just let it happen in late-January, not mid-January. I want to be able to do my "it has been 1,XXX days since Illinois lost to Michigan" thing for at least another year.
I told myself when sitting down to write that I'm not going to predict a loss. I cannot predict a loss in this one. Michigan might even be missing players and they have to play walkons just to finish the game. Maybe this game goes the other way and it IS the complete beatdown that everyone else is talking about.
I just wanted to go on the record and say that I don't feel that way. I'm scared of this one. I'm scared of saying "what just happened?" around 10:00 pm tomorrow night. I'm going to blindly pick us to win a close one, but... just know that I don't feel good. At all.
Illinois 73, Michigan 71