Monday, December 19, 2011

Sports Bank Previews Cornell at Illinois

The alma mater of Andy Bernard, Cornell, can’t get to Champaign fast enough for the Illinois Fighting Illini. The Fighting ‘Nard Dogs, actually they’re called the Cornell Big Red, with some bear looking thing as their logo/mascot I think?, will get the Illini to re-focus quickly after that UGLY loss to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels at their alleged home away from home, the United Center in Chicago.

It’s a REALLY quick, two day turnaround as Illinois returns home to face Cornell on Monday night at the Assembly Hall. And that’s probably a good thing for Illinois.

“I think as an athlete that’s what you like being able to come right back and redeem yourself,” said Illini guard Sam Maniscalco.

“Getting back to the drawing board and getting better. We’ll let it sink in, soak it all up, get back to it tomorrow and hopefully play well versus Cornell.”

It is Illinois’ final non-conference home game. The Illini are 7-0 at the House of ‘Paign this season and have won 10 straight home games dating back to last season. If the favorite college basketball team of Bernard, the fictional Dunder Mifflin branch manager on “The Office” pulls the upset, Illinois 14 game non-conference homecourt winning streak and 25 straight regular season non-conference home streaks will be snapped.

Illinois was ranked #19 and 10-0 before falling to UNLV. Yes, it was their first loss, and the Rebs are a good team, but the Illinois offense looked so poor, that it was just a horrific loss.

“In football you got to sit a week, but we got to come back Monday it’s a good thing we got to come back against Cornell and then probably a tougher team on Thursday in Missouri,” Illini Coach Bruce Weber said after Saturday’s loss.

Yep this will be their final tune up before taking on undefeated and top 15 ranked Mizzou.

This year Illinois has the whitest starting five that I can remember for quite some time. If there ever was a year at the beginning of the decade when Robert Archibald, Lucas Johnson and Sean Harrington all started, it would match the Illini trio this year (Tyley Griffey, Meyers Leonard, Sam Maniscalco). I bring this up only because they’re playing Cornell- meaning this game will be whiter than the ground surface outside (provided it snows in Champaign tonight). In short it will be kind of like Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin.

Anyways, Cornell enters at 4-4 with a 20 pt loss to St Bonaventure (you recall them?) and narrow OT wins over Lehigh and Albany. The Big Red won the last meeting with Illinois in 1961, but the Illini own the all-time series 4-1.

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