I know it may seem hard to believe, but the Illini are playing a basketball game tonight, and it's not against themselves. No, they'll be welcoming McKendree University to the State Farm Center for an exhibition game.
Which of course begs the question: who the hell is McKendree University?
I don't know. Sorry. But what I do know is how to search for things on Wikipedia! And you know what I found out about McKendree University when I looked it up on Wikipedia? Well, the first thing I learned was that the private liberal arts college was located in Lebanon, Illinois, which is east of St. Louis.
But the most interesting thing I learned about the school is that it's the oldest college in the state of Illinois, as it was founded in 1828, nearly a full 40 years before Illinois was founded.
I also learned that when the school first opened classes were taught to 72 students inside two rented sheds.
I don't know if those sheds were also the home of some angry bearcats or not, but the school's mascot is the Bearcat. Which is not a real animal, so I think it's safe to say we know why McKendree is a liberal arts school as it's grasp of science does not seem to be that strong.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
McKendree is also a new member of the NCAA, as it just achieved Division II status in July 2013 after the multi-year process of moving from the NAIA to the NCAA. So welcome to the NCAA, McKendree! I hope you enjoy being a member of an incompetent organization!
As for the basketball team, well, it turns out McKendree has itself the greatest basketball coach of all time. The 76-year old Harry Statham has been coaching the school's basketball program since the 1966-67 season, and in his 46 seasons Statham has led the Bearcats to the postseason 40 times, winning 1,068 games along the way, while only losing 434 times.
Those 1,068 career wins are the most by any basketball coach at one four-year institution. That's pretty damned impressive.
So there. Now you know a lot more about the McKendree Bearcats than you did before you started reading this post. No need to thank me.
As for the game itself, we will be running an GameThread tonight, though I realize many of you won't be watching since it's just an exhibition and it won't be televised. HOWEVER, just so you are aware, the Big Ten Network will show the game on Friday at 11:30am. So just watch it tomorrow morning and leave comments in the GameThread as if you're watching live!
See you tonight, folks.