So, I guess I picked a pretty good game to miss, huh? I've been trying to re-watch all week and can never get past the first quarter. Only sadness awaits beyond. I'll get there soon, I hope.
There are two ways to ask The Champaign Room your questions. You can tweet them at us on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTCR -- it just makes it easier to keep track -- or you can email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. We'll change your name to Tom Crean when we publish it on the site. And remember, you can ask us ANYTHING. It doesn't have to be about Illinois or even sports.
I suppose the answer to this depends on who "you thought [the Fighting Illini] were". I expected five or six wins coming into the year, got a bit excited at the possibility of seven after the first two games, and now I've settled back into rooting for a bowl game and competitive losses in the Big Ten.
The reaction to this UNC game seems a bit excessive. I'm seeing lots of fans predicting three or four wins for the whole season now because of the blowout, but the one loss doesn't mean we can completely disregard that this team looked excellent through two games. And lest we rip on the competition too much, take a gander over at Minnesota's 10-7 win over Kent State at home last weekend.
It's not time to panic yet. Wait until a blowout loss at home to Nebraska followed by a loss at Iowa, and then fans can totally punt the season. And even if it becomes time to panic, it's almost certain that this team is going to be under new leadership next year so it's not really worth the mental energy of being upset anyway.
I like Xavier Sneed, he seems like he could be a pretty good defender. Now here's the more educated Jim Vainisi, manager of this here site and haver of intelligent basketball #taeks:
Sneed will be taking an official visit to Xavier this weekend and he's going to announce his decision on September 28th. He's officially cut his list to Illinois, Creighton, Kansas State, Wichita State, and Xavier, but you may as well narrow that down even further to the Illini, Wildcats, and Musketeers.
It's been a few weeks since Sneed visited Champaign, but I still think Illinois has a good shot here (I'd handicap it at 50/25/25 going into the Xavier visit). The only factor really going against the Illini -- and it's admittedly a big one -- is the depth chart. Sure, Sneed could come in and fill a niche with his athleticism and defensive ability, but there's already so much talent on the perimeter and he probably wouldn't become a major contributor until his junior year. That doesn't seem like the most appealing situation in the world.
#ASKTCR What's up with Malik Turner?
— Matt Harvey (@mharvey847) September 22, 2015
Nobody really knows what's going on with Malik. Cubit basically said this week that Turner needs to step it up in practice before he starts to produce in games, and that's not a particularly good omen. Part of his struggles are from not playing quite as many snaps as last year, but it's certainly strange that a guy as talented athletically as Turner can't find success on the field right now.
I don't think the future of Turner is in jeopardy just yet, but it's certainly possible he just doesn't really contribute this season. Geronimo is around, Justin Hardee is close to a return, Dionte Taylor is hanging out, and Marchie Murdock is emerging as a go-to option for Lunt in the short passing game.
Plus, there's the thinly possible return of Mike Dudek as well as the development of freshmen Sam Mays and Desmond Cain. It's a crowded receiving corps right now, but it won't be nearly as crowded next season. Maybe Turner basically takes this year off and gets himself right for next season. He could also have a great game and start seeing the field more. Who knows.
Listen, don't worry about Ole Miss's end of the bargain. They needed five turnovers, many in Alabama territory, to take down the Crimson Tide. If you matched up the Illini with Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa, that's an easy 30-point victory for Bill Cubit's squad, and they wouldn't need a brilliantly planned and obviously not coincidental trick play to do so.
Through three games of a 12-15 game season, it looks to be the Northwestern Wildcats.
I don't think this is too difficult a choice. It's certainly possible to root for both Northwestern and Illinois, while preferring your own fandom. This isn't some born-and-bred, greatest rivalry in sports deal like Michigan vs. Ohio State or Yankees vs. Red Sox. I personally really enjoy the sort of pseudo rivalry Illinois and Northwestern have going right now, but it's certainly not one that should prevent you from cheering on the Cats with your girlfriend.
I was a Michigan fan during my childhood, so that'd be my first choice for sure. But taking the Wolverines out of the picture, that leaves the following schools which I've ranked in order from worst to best because why not extend a rather meager #AskTCR:
10. Villanova - I am not at all interested in playing for the team that
viciously stole recruited Jalen Brunson away from his rightful place destiny future in Champaign.
9. Arizona State - One of these things is not like the others. You see, Arizona State is the only bad program on this list. I'm not even really sure why it's here. Go home, Arizona State. Also, Sparky is a dumb name for a mascot who has extremely high potential for badassery.
8. UCONN - Everything about UCONN just bores me. Good coach and good NBA alumni (Kemba Walker and Andre Drummond to name the first two who popped in my head), but I have no interest in playing for a state school where the successful men's team is deservedly overshadowed by the unbeatable women's team. And the colors suck. Get new colors, UCONN.
7. Georgetown - See everything I wrote about UCONN, minus the women's team business. Also, I imagine it's remarkably painful to lose in the first round as a 1-4 seed every single year in perpetuity.
6. UCLA - They kinda sucked last year. But the fan base is awesome, the tradition is top tier and I'm a sucker for powder blue. My MyPlayer can be the next Russell Westbrook, while my real life self can be the next Kevin Love, as I have roughly the same college physique that he did.
5. Louisville - Louisville is just about as good as it gets... but they have Adidas uniforms and I have no interest in getting yelled at by a Pitino all day long.
4. Arizona - Arizona falls just outside the top three because their motto doesn't fit their mascot (Bear Down =/= Wildcats) and because my MyPlayer is dedicated to the game and I'm not sure the party atmosphere at Arizona is the best place for him to take his talents.
3. Kansas - Yeah, yeah. Y'all are gonna kill me for this one, but combine one of the best arenas in basketball with one of the best color schemes in college sports and you have a top contender.
2. Wisconsin - Everything about Wisconsin is fantastic... except the team is coached by a member of and alien bug race hell bent on destroying college basketball. Don't let the alien bug race win.
1. Texas - Enough tradition to have a good fan base but has plenty of room to leave a legacy, one of the largest alumni bases in the entire world, a fantastic college town, a solid university academically, and they just fired one of my least favorite coaches in college basketball (Rick Barnes) to hire one of my favorites (Shaka Smart). Sign me up for Havoc.
I'd say it's probably first team All-B1G and a first round draft selection. Malcolm Hill has already been projected as a second round pick for this season, so it wouldn't be a huge shock if he kicked it up a notch and elevated into guaranteed contract status. At his peak, Malcolm is probably something kinda like what TJ Warren did at NC State a couple years ago, but with a bit more playmaking and a bit less pure scoring ability from the midrange.