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The Land That Scoring Forgot: Illinois 42, MSU 41

Apologies for the delay in getting a recap up; it's taken me this long to unclench my disgust muscles. When you shoot 24% from the floor (eFG 26.7% thanks to a couple of threes), even 50% offensive rebounding can't save you. The gory details, in handy four-factors-chart form:

Much was made, by the commentators (and some comments after the game by players), of the ball possibly being overinflated. I wouldn't be surprised at all, as there were an unusual number of rim-outs, shots left short (which would be expected if the ball was a little heavier than normal), and wild long rebounds. (And this wouldn't be the first ball anomaly in recent memory at Illinois, even: they played seven minutes against Oakland last year with a women's-size basketball. If I were the equipment manager there, I'd be updating my resume right now.) If so, however, Illinois had to deal with it as well (and they didn't deal with it particularly well either - their shooting was only slightly less abysmal than ours).

Player notes after the jump.

  • Branden Dawson: the one bright spot on the night, with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
  • Draymond Green: 5 points, 8 rebounds, 5 turnovers in very limited duty due to illness, foul trouble (including a T; given his history with Jim Burr (who T'd him up once last year) and the very public memo just sent out by the head of officiating to emphasize cracking down on complaints about calls, Tuesday night would probably have been a very good time not to do that), and a sprained knee which has him day-to-day (but optimistic).
  • Brandon Wood: 3 points; also hampered by the flu.
  • Keith Appling: 1 for 11 shooting, 4 points, 4 rebounds, 5 turnovers. A performance best forgotten, although he's hardly alone in that regard.

As hideous as all of that was (even Illinois fans would probably prefer to burn the tape, as long as they still get to count it on their resume come Bracket Day), a one-point road loss to a solid NCAA tournament-level team (albeit one that probably won't make the second weekend) with two key players limited by illness is not exactly cause for panic. A Big Ten title and a high seed in the NCAA tournament are still well within reach. Crashing the Dance still has us as the top 3 seed; meanwhile, the three teams ahead or tied with us in the loss column in conference all have to come to Breslin yet. The road has certainly gotten harder, but not impossible (I'll be running updated odds tomorrow; my gut says about 20-30%).