The DePaul post was a long time coming and, as a result, long-winded, so here are my other thoughts from the weekend in sports in a separate section:
1) Got Offense? Not These Illini – The side benefit from attending the DePaul-Notre Dame game on Saturday was that my TV was spared from random objects being punched through the screen since I couldn’t watch the Illinois-Iowa game. Whether we can have consistent offensive output when Dee Brown isn’t playing well is a major concern. However, I must say that this had all the trappings of a trap game for the Illini. We just came off an emotional and huge win against highly ranked Michigan State and were going on the road to face a pretty good team that was a lot more pumped-up to play us than we were to play them. I’m confident Bruce Weber will right the ship in time for next Saturday’s game against (Muck) Fichigan.
2) Wisky’s Back, Tell a Friend – Every year, college basketball prognosticators talk about how many starters Wisconsin lost and that the Badgers will be going through a rebuilding phase. And then every year, Wisconsin spanks everyone who comes into the Kohl Center and they end up as one of the top two or three teams in the Big Ten. So, the Badger beating of the Spartans on Sunday shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Honestly, I’ve got to give Wisky coach Bo Ryan mad props – I can’t think of another coach in the country who has such a finely tuned system where he can drop in 4 new starters who were barely All-Wisconsin out of high school much less McDonald’s All-Americans and continue to contend for the Big Ten title. Wisconsin has a great coach and a great program.
3) NFC Wild Card Weekend – I was really hoping that the Bears would draw Tampa Bay for next weekend’s second round match-up, but the Redskins were able to take advantage of the enigma known as Chris Simms first. How else could Washington have possibly won with 120 total yards of offense (pencil in a Seattle victory next week)? So, the Bears are getting a rematch with a Carolina team that currently has an offense that’s humming. Plus, the Panther defense smothered the Giants’ Eli Manning, who is a seasoned veteran at QB compared to Rex Grossman (there are few things more satisfying in sports than watching New Yorkers boo their own team for 3 quarters – it was like watching a Knicks game). Still, we killed this team back in November and we’re going to have a completely healthy defense with Mike Brown back in the fold. I love our chances to advance in the playoffs for the first time since Da Coach was at the helm. I’m seriously giddy!
4) AFC Wild Card Weekend – As I stated three weeks ago, the Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC. I don’t care if next week’s game is in the thin air of Denver; if you had to bet your life savings on a team, are you going to take a club led by Tom Brady or one commanded by Jake Plummer? Exactly. On the other side of the bracket, it was a shame that Carson Palmer’s injury killed Cincinnati against the Steelers on Sunday, but I was silently hoping that Jon Kitna would somehow also get knocked out so I could once again see Craig Krenzel in an NFL game without a Bears uniform. I’m up in the air on the Colts-Steelers game next week (I think the power running game of Pittsburgh can really take control of the tempo on the speed-oriented Indy defense), although it ultimately won’t matter since I’m sticking by my prediction three weeks ago that the Pats will be the AFC Super Bowl rep again.
5) Bulls Out of Funk – The Bulls finally came back this weekend with a 2-game winning streak, although Sam Smith from the Tribune is preaching to the choir here when he says we have too many guards and should trade one of them, preferably Chris Duhon as opposed to the more oft-mentioned Ben Gordon, for a big man.