ILLINI DO IT AGAIN
Many thought Illinois' unbeaten streak would come to an end on Tuesday night in East Lansing, but the Illini once again showed their toughness as they dismissed the Spartans on their home floor. ESPN reported that the ticket to the Super Tuesday showdown was one of the hardest to get in Michigan State history, but the white-clad faithful who were able to get inside had little to cheer about once the Illini took over.
Illinois led by seven at the half but had that lead cut to just three early in the second period. Coach Bruce Webber's team responded, however, stretching the margin to thirteen points and never looking back. A late run by MSU could only get the Spartans within a touchdown as Dee Brown and his troops took their record to 22-0 on the season. The team also set a school record by winning their 18th straight Big Ten game.
So when will the Illini lose? Or will they lose? After seeing the team win on the road at both Wisconsin and Michigan State the last two weeks, I'm beginning to believe they can run the table. If they are going to lose, it's not going to be at home, so let's take a look at what they have left on the road.
The Illini wil be away from home again next Tuesday at Michigan and again the following Wednesday at Penn State. Both of those teams are in the bottom half of the Big Ten and shouldn't provide Illinois with much of a challenge. On the 19th, Coach Webber's squad visits Iowa, but the Hawkeyes recently dismissed their best player, Pierre Pierce. After two home games, the team wraps up the regular season at Ohio State. The Buckeyes have shown some life this season, but I doubt they'll end the streak.
WHAT ABOUT BC?
While Illinois is getting all the attention, Boston College is also sitting pretty on the back row at 19-0 overall and 8-0 in Big East play. Perhaps the Eagles' most impressive win to date came in early January on the road at Connecticut.
BC begins a two-game road stretch this weekend. On Saturday they will travel to Seton Hall. The Pirates are just 10-7 overall and have not fared well against quality competition. The following Tuesday has a trip to Notre Dame on the schedule. The Irish have already knocked off Villanova and Connecticut in South Bend this season.
But if Boston College can survive those two tests, here are a few more possible bumps in the upcoming road: vs Syracuse (2/19), at Villanova (2/23), vs Pittsburgh (2/28).
WEEKEND SPOTLIGHT LEAGUE
For the second straight time, the ACC has been chosen as the Weekend Spotlight League. Several of the conference's top teams will have to venture on the road either Saturday or Sunday, meaning the standings could look much different on Monday than they did on Friday.
The first ACC game of the weekend has Georgia Tech visiting Duke. That tip-off is set for 12:00 PM CST and will televised regionally by CBS. The Jackets have lost four of their last five, but the one win during that stretch was over Wake Forest. Three of the defeats came by less than ten points. Duke has lost two of their last three now that their schedule has gotten tougher in recent weeks.
The second game on Saturday has Maryland traveling to Miami. Start time is set for 2:00 PM CST, and Jefferson-Pilot will provide a regional telecast. The Hurricanes have played surprisingly well this season and have picked up league victories over NC State, Virginia, Florida State, and Clemson. UM is 8-2 at home since December began, and the Terps (as they showed at Clemson on Tuesday) have struggled away from home.
The other half of the 2:00 PM CST JP telecast has Virginia Tech hosting Wake Forest. Like Miami, the Hokies are another team that has played above expectations this season. Coach Seth Greenberg's squad has won six of their previous seven, the lone loss coming at Duke. During that stretch, VT has knocked off NC State, Virginia, and Georgia Tech. The Deacons have struggled on the road thus far, losing at Florida State and GT.
The final game Saturday has Virginia visiting NC State in a 7:00 PM CST tip-off. JP will also televise that game regionally. Both Cavs and Pack have been up and down this season. NC State has claimed impressive wins over the likes of Georgia Tech and Maryland but has also lost to St. John's, Virginia Tech, and Florida State. UVA has won just one league game thus far and has dropped seven of their last eight overall.
The lone ACC contest set for Sunday gets underway at 1:00 PM CST. FoxSportsNet will show that game, matching North Carolina and Florida State in Tallahassee, to a regional audience. The Tar Heels must play NC State this Thursday night before venturing down south. FSU has played extremely well at home at times this season, knocking off both Florida and Wake Forest. UNC can't afford to look ahead to their trip to Duke next Wednesday.
|Copyright © 2004 SouthernCollegeSports.com. All rights reserved. This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school, team, or league.|