Euphoria on a Wednesday Night

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

What did I just watch?

What in the name of Dee Brown just happened?

From the basement of the Big Ten, Illinois ascended to heights I, and surely most Illini fans, couldn't possibly imagine. They completely dismantled Minnesota on Wednesday night in the State Farm Center.

Hang on.

They went full supernova on Minnesota.

Hang on.

They went full Thanos on Minnesota, but instead of erasing half of all (SPOLIER!) sentient life in the universe they wiped out the entire universe and all the universes in the multiverse.

Ayo went for 23. Girogi went for 20. Trent went for 15. BRAD UNDERWOOD EVEN GOT TO PUT IN ALL THE BENCHWARMERS FOR THE LAST TWO MINUTES.

Who could have possibly seen this coming? I mean, I did think they might win the game. But like that? Against a 13-3 Minnesota team? After all of their struggles this season? Come on. This was the stuff of impossible daydreams. This was madness. This was so much fun. And having so much fun didn't seem like a possibility for Illini fans during this basketball season. And yet.

How did you feel watching this game?

I felt like I was weightless, like I was barely tethered to the surface of the Earth. I felt like The Screaming Woman had finally stopped shrieking (and indeed she has), or like she had never existed at all.

As Illinois continued to build their lead in the second half, after the dreadful fear of a Minnesota comeback slowly receded to an impossibility, the more I allowed myself to revel in what was happening. And what was happening was that the Illini were beating the absolute piss out of a worthy Big Ten opponent. They were having fun. They formed what amounted to an unceasing layup line en route to their first conference victory. Hell, even Aaron Jordan, who lost his starting spot after a long spell of poor play, absorbed some of the confidence emanating from his teammates, going 3-4 from beyond the arch.

The Illini players were enjoying themselves so much that they even pulled off two alley-oops, regardless of the fact that they were the most Illinois ass alley-oops ever in that they were each finished off with a lay-in instead of a thunderous dunk.

Most importantly, to me, I felt like my time wasn't being wasted. I felt like, for at least this two-hour stretch, my Illini obsession was justified. And that's all we really need to keep going: these brief respites from the pit, when our team lifts us up past the storm clouds and gives us hope. Whether this hope is crushed on Sunday at Iowa is so far beyond mattering in this moment. My team played extremely well. Otherworldly well. And my joy was unbound.

So enjoy this win. Have hope for the future. Take heart knowing that Trent Frazier is only a sophomore and all of these promising freshman are freshman, all of which will be joined by more talent next year. Call the dogs off Underwood (again, for now). Let's see what other miracles may come our way the rest of the season.


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