Pick My Post - Top 10

Apr 2, 2022

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This one will be difficult. Well, difficult because I try to restrict myself to 45 minutes of writing with these Pick My Post articles. Maybe I'll give myself an hour. But the whole point is to have the article written quickly so that you know that it's not something I researched or re-wrote. The question comes in at 8:33 pm, I try to have the response out there by 9:18 pm.

So I know I'm going to miss one or two here. And I'll slap my forehead in the morning. But rules are rules. Here's the question:

As I said in my response there, I'll try to restrict this to in-person sporting events. So you're going to want to say "Arizona Elite Eight" and my answer will be "I wasn't there." And that might come up a lot. 1993 Andy Kaufmann shot? Wasn't there. 2013

The top-10 Illini sporting events of my life. From 10 to 1:

10. 2021 Illinois football at Penn State

Had to get this one on the list. Because of the nine overtimes, it will be remembered for a long, long time. And I will remember the specific spot at the back of the Penn State press box where there were a bunch of empty seats and I could pace for all nine overtimes. I wish I had been wearing a FitBit. I bet I got in 4,000 steps during the nine overtimes.

One moment from that game that made it so great for me: the cameras (at least on the replay of the game I saw) missed the Illini field rush. When Casey Washington came down with that ball, the entire sideline emptied towards the endzone. Talk about a barge package.

9. 2000 Illinois basketball vs. Seton Hall

One specific memory from that game. It was during that game that the Supreme Court finalized the decision on the Bush-Gore election. Guy next to me (not Carmen - the guy on the other side of us) was listening on a little mini-radio and told me.

I'm gonna do this one without research so I'm not going to remember how many points we were down at halftime. Something like 21? Maybe we were down 21 in the first half but cut it closer at halftime. All I remember is that we were down 20-something, we came storming back, Cory Bradford hadn't gotten his three-pointer to extend the streak but since the game went to overtime he hit a three, we won, and the streak was extended as we beat a Seton Hall team that was ranked something like 11 or 12. Assembly Hall was just so incredibly loud during that comeback.

8. 1994 Illinois football vs. Penn State

This will be the only loss I put on here. But what an incredible game. I was shirtless with a painted chest in the front row of the east balcony - the "N" of ILLINI - and we took a 21-0 lead on #2 Penn State. We led 28-14 at the half but ended up losing... I want to say 35-31? All I know is that Penn State went 95 yards twice in the fourth quarter, the second drive ending with fullback Brian freaking Milne scoring with maybe 25 seconds left. Hated the loss but... just about the best atmosphere I can ever remember in Memorial Stadium.

7. 2022 Illinois basketball vs. Iowa

This has to go on the list. Wisconsin somehow loses to Nebraska at home on Senior Day opening up the chance for us to end this 17-year streak without a Big Ten title. And we hang on for dear life and somehow pull it out.

I don't think I need to say anything more about this one because it just happened a few weeks ago. You remember.

6. 2019 Illinois football vs. Wisconsin

About as good as it gets for Homecoming. Sun is out, perfect day, great tailgate, win over top-10 Wisconsin on a last-second field goal, entire crowd empties out onto the field.

And I wandered around the field recording myself eight minutes after the game saying things like "is it over? did we win?"

5. 2020 Illinois basketball at Michigan

This seems like recency bias but I don't really think it is. You know that the road football game at Michigan State is still to come on this list so this makes 5 of the 10 on this list happening in the last three years. Seems crazy but... I think it's true? 9 OT Penn State has to be on there. 2019 Wisconsin has to be on there. This Iowa game and that incredible court rush absolutely has to be on there. 2019 Michigan State football has to be. And getting to be one of the 150 people in the building for Illinois 76, #2 Michigan 53 absolutely has to be on here.

I wish I could report back with "the crowd was stunned", but there was no crowd. Just a Michigan media horde (who were stunned). The maybe 75 Michigan friends-and-family members in the crowd were stunned. And the Illinois bench just kept yelling and yelling and it kept echoing and echoing. Michigan, talking everything they talked before that game, with confetti cannons at the ready and Big Ten Champs signs printed up, walks off the court losing 76-53.

4. 2019 Illinois football at Michigan State

Losing 28-3 in the second quarter with MSU having first and goal. Losing 31-10 going at the start of the fourth quarter. And then win 37-34 to clinch the first bowl game in five years. I had watched so many games where the TV cameras cut away to the little patch of visiting fans celebrating the winning touchdown with 10 seconds left. But to BE part of that little patch of visiting fans? Incredible.

3. 2004 Illinois basketball vs. Wake Forest

This is the quasi-#1 for me. Because the next two are personal, not "great games in Illini history and I was there". But anyone there that night will likely list it as the greatest Illini basketball game they've ever attended in Assembly Hall/State Farm Center. #1 comes to Champaign and gets absolutely, positively, completely destroyed.

2. 2014 Braggin' Rights vs. Missouri

If you don't know my story with the Braggin' Rights game, well, I don't have time to fill you in because it's 9:17 so technically I have one minute left. But the short of it is that we had tickets to the 1993 game but my father passed away just after Thanksgiving. I still went, it was awful, some Missouri fans made fun of me for crying, and I hated the Braggin' Rights game for decades. I avoided the game (wouldn't even watch) from 1999 to 2013. I returned in 2014, Rayvonte Rice hit a buzzer beater, I tweeted this to close a door on a long journey I had taken...

...and I put my head down on press row and cried.

1. 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl



mark.loula@gmail.com on April 2, 2022 @ 03:04 AM


  1. Bb: Illinois at Wisconsin 2005
  2. Bb:GT @ Illinois 1989
  3. Fb: Colorado @ Illinois 1990
  4. Fb: Psu @ Illinois 2001
  5. Fb: Nebraska @ Illinois 2021
  6. Bb: Iowa @ Illinois 1989
  7. Bb: Indiana @ Illinois 1989
  8. Fb; Illinois vs. SIU 1990
  9. Fb: MSU @ Illinois 1984
  10. Fb: MSU @ Illinois 2016

MuckFichigan92 on April 2, 2022 @ 03:20 AM

That GT 3OT game would be mine. Eventual national champion CU in MS was a helluva a day! Bob Hope at KO before a Schembechler-led weasel squad in ‘90 (?). Jeff George to Mike Bellamy for 13 points in 26 seconds was a scream. Rich Higgins’ fifth FG to beat MSU was glorious until Nick Bell & co. came to MS the following week.

mark.loula@gmail.com on April 2, 2022 @ 03:32 AM

f’ing Nick Bell and Bo Schembechler. I was at those games too.

IlliniJoe81 on April 2, 2022 @ 03:25 AM

  1. 2004 Illinois basketball vs. Wake Forest (PTHO is on my wall right behind the monitor right now, best sporting event of my life)
  2. 2004 Illinois basketball @Purdue (IlliniBrew sent me and a bunch of others for free)
  3. 2003 Big Ten Tournament Championship Game (my first BTT and we won it -- fell in love with the BTT)
  4. 2005 Big Ten Tournament Championship Game (2 for 2 to start BTTs)
  5. 3/14/13 Illinois basketball vs. Minnesota (BTT buzzer beater, last win I've seen in person)
  6. 2007 Illinois Football vs. Penn State (Regis Benn TD, just an amazing game)
  7. Rose Bowl 2008 (because I got to see Illinois in the Rose Bowl)
  8. 2005 Illinois Football vs. Rutgers (first football game with my brother, cool comeback win to start the Zook era)
  9. 11/19/2010 vs. Maryland (Got to see Illinois win in MSG against my family rival team)
  10. 2005 Illinois Basketball vs. Fairleigh Dickinson (it's fun to see an NCAA win in person - my first NCAA Tournament game)

Worst 2006 Illinois Basketball vs. Penn State 2000 Illinois Football vs. Michigan (tie) All of the Illinois Basketball games I've attended in person since 3/14/13 -- every single one has been a demoralizing defeat.

DGMac on April 2, 2022 @ 03:59 AM

2005 bb Arizona has to be on this list. A for-the-ages comeback in a regional final and Final Four berth. Afterwards, I was on the phone with my sister (also an Illini alum), and all I could say was “I don’t believe it, these kind of games only end with Illinois losing.” The single greatest feeling I’ve had in my whole sports, let alone Illini, fandom (edging out Bears ‘86 Super Bowl).

FME on April 2, 2022 @ 07:29 PM

Yeah 05 Arizona has to be on this list

mrmill on April 3, 2022 @ 08:42 PM

He wasn’t there. But obviously, the best game ever?

illini222 on April 2, 2022 @ 04:08 AM

10-1983 Hoops-Minnesota at Illinois (Harper 3 from the top of the key to win) 9-1994 football vs Mizzou (42-0----only first down for Mizzou came in the last 5 minutes) 8-1998 Hoops Michigan St vs Illinois (84-63-so loud) 7-2009 Halloween FB vs Michigan (crappy season with a team that should have been so much better but damn Terry Hawthorne) 6-2013 Hoops vs Indiana (listened to IU fans next to me all night on how great they were, thank you Tyler Griffey. They've done it Tess!) 5-1990 football vs Colorado (23-22, Colorado's only loss) 4-2005 Hoops Semi vs Louisville 3-2004 Hoops vs Wake Forest 2-1983 football vs Michigan (can still see Williams running across the middle and diving into the SE corner of Memorial Stadium) 1-2005 Hoops vs Arizona

ATOillini on April 2, 2022 @ 04:15 AM

I think I know the video (piano and singing?) you’re referencing in your #1. Reveals your humanity.

Random personal comments -

Best - David Williams across the middle and then down the east sideline to the south end zone. No year necessary. Pure joy. IYKYK

Worst - Jan ‘79 loss to tOSU at the Hall after we’d just beaten Magic & Co. Was unfortunate cover of Sports Illustrated that week. All downhill from there…..like an out of control competitive skier. From 15-0 to 19-11. Ouch

GalesburgIllini on April 2, 2022 @ 11:32 AM

Your coverage of the Kraft was what got me on the blog. Repost the piano video!

larue on April 2, 2022 @ 12:23 PM

I would have some of the above on my list, but at or near the top would be

EJ's shot Kaufman's shot Thomas Rooks down the sideline

TheDukeUIUC on April 2, 2022 @ 02:08 PM

I forget what year exactly around 2009 to 2011, but when College Gameday came to Champaign for the basketball against highly-ranked MSU. Most of the the Krush had been at Assembly Hall all day to participate in the morning TV coverage with Reece Davis and crew. The Hall was on full tilt that entire game, and it was close throughout. DJ Richardson has a late-game steal and breakaway dunk in the final minutes as a dagger to seal the win. Best environment while I was in CU.

'98 on April 2, 2022 @ 02:24 PM

I can’t do this without including a ton of losses…. But here goes…

  1. illini-Washington 2006. I haven’t watched a second of it since it happened, but it’s the only time I’ve been able to see us play in the tourney in person. It was going great for a while. I hate putting it here, but… here we are.
  2. illini-Arizona 1993. My first game as a student. Resplendent sunny day. An early indoctrination on officiating in Illinois games. Memorable, nonetheless.
  3. illini-Michigan football 1994. A loss, but the stadium rocked so hard back then. 1994 team deserved better than its record.
  4. illini-Indiana hoops 1994. I don’t remember the score but I remember we kicked Knight’s ass pretty good and it was super bowl Sunday.
  5. illini-Minnesota 1993. The blizzard game. Man, it was cold. Freshman year, Dad’s Day. First game my dad attended with me. Great finish.
  6. illini-Wisconsin 2001. Homecoming. big ten championship season. Great game, last football victory I saw in person. Campus was awesome that evening and night. First game Mrs 98 (ASU grad) attended.
  7. Illinois-Michigan State 1998. Best home atmosphere I ever saw as a student, my last illini game as a student, and a giant blowout win that led to a hell of a fun night out.
  8. Illinois-GCU 2019. Game not particularly great, but the first time I got to take my kids to an illini game, we were 3 rows behind the bench, and GCU’s home crowd was absolutely insane.
  9. Illinois-penn state 1994. Pretty sure I was about 1-2 rows away from Robert. Greatest atmosphere I’ve ever seen at memorial stadium.
  10. the Rose Bowl, 1/1/08. The scoreboard hardly mattered. THE ROSE BOWL.

'98 on April 2, 2022 @ 02:25 PM

Weird… that was typed in descending order 10-1, and posted… differently.

illini222 on April 2, 2022 @ 06:21 PM

That 94 team had 5 losses by a combined 22 points or as Lovie called a single 22 point loss-progress!

Efrem on April 2, 2022 @ 05:38 PM

No comeback.v AZ to go to the final four? Unbelievable

Robert on April 3, 2022 @ 02:45 AM

As noted in the article, these were only events I attended.

Shemp89 on April 2, 2022 @ 06:28 PM

Shemp89 on April 2, 2022 @ 06:29 PM

Dman68 on April 2, 2022 @ 06:35 PM

My Top Ten games I attended.

Honorable Mention: 2022 BB game vs. Iowa to win a shared B1G title.

10.) 2001 FB game vs. Wisconsin. In 1994 I visited a friend in Madison and went to that game. Wisky fans gave me hard time all dat and the friend kind of seemed delighted by that. Fast forward to 2001 and the friend is now in Champaign getting exactly what I got in 1994 from Illini fans.

9.) 1993 FB game at Purdue. My company I worked for at the time transferred me to West Lafayette. We started the season 0-3 and Purdue fans were confident they would beat us because they gave Notre Dame a good fight in a close loss to them. I went to the game with some co-worker Purdue fans. W for Illini that day.

8.) 1995 BB game at Purdue. Still living in W. Laf and had to listen to all the Boiler fans brag about their B1G title with Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson the in 94. Plus, still smarting over the 94 FB game when Matt Alstott ran all over our D and upset us in Champaign. The first 95 BB game was a little bit of vindication.

7.) 1992 FB game at Michigan. Living in Bloomington, IL at the time, my roommate was the older brother of Mich CB Dwayne Ware. My roommate got us tickets for the game and of course he was cheering for That Team Up North. It was nice to at least not get beat up in AA and come away with a tie.

6.) 1990 FB game vs, Colorado. The comeback win vs. eventually national champions. Most exciting game I attended as a U of I student.

5.) 2014 FB game at Northwestern. Since 1995, I have hated losing to NW in FB. Personally, I was going through a hard time in my life so our win up in Evanston gave me a bright spot at that time and something I really needed.

4.) 1993 BB game vs. Iowa. My birthday and one of my last games I would attend as resident of Illinois before being transferred to West Lafayette. After Iowa got that flukey bounce of Deon Thomas for the ball to go into the bucket to give the Hawks a 2 point lead with only 1.5 seconds to go, my friend wanted to leave. I said we are staying and Kaufmann's miracle shot went in.

3.) 1990 BB Game vs. LSU. I don't know how I lucked out but I got front and center A level tickets to this game and Shaq looked huge. They were #10 and we were unranked. Rennie Clemmons owned Shaq that day and we pull the upset.

2.) 2005 BB game vs. Arizona. I lived five minutes away from Allstate Arena at the time. There was no way I was not going to the S16 and E8 games and miss my team in my back yard. I paid over $500 for those sessions and it was well worth it.

1.) 2021 FB game vs. Northwestern. Since 1995, I have hated NW with a passion and its sad that is come down to them owning us lately. Very gratifying to see us finally dominate them from beginning to end.

HailToTheOrange on April 3, 2022 @ 04:49 PM

6.) 1990 FB game vs, Colorado. The comeback win vs. eventually national champions. Most exciting game I attended as a U of I student.

My first game as a student. Has to be in my top 3

Dman68 on April 2, 2022 @ 06:43 PM

How could I leave out the 2011 FB game vs. NW at Wrigley? With all of that NW hype taking over Wrigley and Mikle Leushore ruining their coming out party. Take #7 off my list and put it as a second Honorable Mention.

Illinimac68 on April 2, 2022 @ 08:18 PM

Northwestern football 1963. I was a senior in high school. My girl friend's brother was a backup offensive tackle for Northwestern so I went with her and her family. They were ranked 4 in the nation with Tom Myers (QB) and Paul Flatley (WR). We were coming off a 2-7 year. We had beaten California and Craig Morton 10-0 but weren't expected to give Northwestern much of a game. That defense held Northwestern to 9 and we scored the winning touchdown on a halfback pass. I had to stifle my big grin for dinner afterward and the drive home.

illinirandy on April 2, 2022 @ 08:49 PM

Two jump to the top...

  1. 1983 football v. Michigan
  2. 2005 basketball....the comeback.

tednocella@gmail.com on April 3, 2022 @ 06:35 AM

  1. Illinois v Wake Forest ‘04
  2. Illinois v Arizona ‘05
  3. Illinois v Ohio State fball ‘07
  4. weird one - Illinois v Ohio State fball ‘94
  5. Illinois v Louisville ‘05
  6. Illinois v Purdue bball ‘04 to clinch
  7. Illinois v Ohio State ‘99 BTT semis
  8. Illinois v Penn St fball ‘07 (week before Wisconsin, when everyone started to believe)
  9. Illinois v Iowa ‘05, home game in bball went to OT, and I swear AH was louder at this game than against Wake
  10. weird one - Illinois v Iowa fball ‘93 Illinois won 49-3. I was 7 and loved every single minute watching that wrecking with my dad.

AHSIllini32 on April 3, 2022 @ 11:40 AM

I legit teared up reading your #2 game.

Really cool look back at some of these games. Great article!

spmckinn on April 3, 2022 @ 05:02 PM


illinijimbo on April 4, 2022 @ 05:27 PM

Here is my quick take on my personal attended...

  1. Illinois vs Arizona 2005
  2. Illinois vs Michigan 1999 31-23 - Rocky Harvey Picture Show
  3. vs Louisville Final Four 2005
  4. Illinois @ Ohio St 1999 Football W (45-23?)
  5. Illinois vs Kansas Sweet 16 game 2001 in San Antonio
  6. Illinois vs Michigan January 1989 - Flyin Illini Home W vs champs
  7. Illinois vs Indiana Fball 1988 - amazing comeback in the rain, glad we stayed
  8. Rose Bowl 2008
  9. Illinois vs Penn St 1994 fball
  10. Illinois vs Wake Forest 2004

illinijimbo on April 4, 2022 @ 05:27 PM

  1. Illinois vs Iowa March 2022

jono426 on April 5, 2022 @ 01:21 AM

I don’t know.

Somebody help me with Kraft fight hunger

illinois81 on April 5, 2022 @ 06:23 PM

Most memorable. 10) 1978 football zero-zero tie with Northwestern (member of MI, had to sit through the whole thing. 9) Sept 23, 2000 football loss to Michigan, LeMonier's group of officials saw fit to award the ball incorrectly twice in the 4th quarter to Michigan, resulting in a loss of the beloved. 8) 2001 basketball Griffin's last second shot to finally take a lead and win over Wisconsin. 7) 1989 football win over OSU (only game I attended that season) 6) 2009 football win over Michigan, only football win over the Wolverines I have ever watched in person 5) 2003 BTT basketball championship win over Ohio State 4) 2019 football win over Wisconsin 3) 2004 basketball win over #1 Wake Forest (the previous game, win over Gonzaga in Indianapolis is close, too) 2) 2007 football win at Ohio State (one of 5 wins I have seen in person there)

  1. 2005 basketball win over Arizona in the Elite Eight

jpbrown on July 26, 2022 @ 08:36 PM

I would love an explanation of "IYKYK" under Kraft, as a pretty new subscriber/follower :)

CapitalCityOutlaw50 on July 27, 2022 @ 01:15 AM

This is pretty fun. . ,.

  1. Illinois IU football 1990. IIRC, Jeff George had to mount a pretty nice comeback against a Vaughan Dunbar led Indiana. Cold as heck, but me and some HS football teammates were having a blast in the old upper Horseshoe sections, and we made ESPN because of it. . .

  2. Penn State 2012. Me, a buddy and about a dozen other people. But what a huge surprise win.

  3. Howard Griffiths coming out party 1990. How many times do you get to see an all-time NCAA record get set? Down 2 TDs to SIU early, it didnt start well.

  4. Wisky football at home 2007 (?) Regis Benn's freshman coming out party was pretty sweet as well.

  5. NW Wrigley 20011- walking out , looking at the purple friendly confines monstrosity and yelling " Paint it Orange!!!" My wife and I also chatted with a very funny and gracious Mr. Cub that day. RIP Ernie.

  6. Rayvonte Rice in the Bragging rights game. What an ending!!

  7. Tyler Griffey with the easiest but highest pressure wide open layup in Illini history. "They've done it Tess!!!!!"

  8. Colorado Football 1990. The worst safety call in history almost cost the Illini a hard fought win. We beat the eventual National Champions that day...

  9. ODD ONE FOR MOST: Liberty Bowl 1995. Road trip with some buds. The local press had already awarded ECU the victory, and a few of their fans sure bought in and talked the talk. 30-0 Illini shutout. When we hit the Hampton Inn breakfast at 5am coming IN from Beale as they were leaving for a long trip back. . . their mood was much more somber.

  10. Football victory at the horseshoe in 2001. B1G champs. I've never been back, and probably wont ever again. I don't have to. One of the best days of my life as a fan. Years later when playing Arena Ball, I met Ty Myers (Springfield, OH guy without a Buckeye offer who made the game clinching interception for the Beloved...) when I told him I was there and that I'll never forget that play, his face lit up like a scoreboard You can be damn sure he wont either. . .

CapitalCityOutlaw50 on July 27, 2022 @ 01:19 AM

These were supposed to countdown 10 to 1. Somehow I messed it up, but cant edit. . . .

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