Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:
Illinois’ win against Northwestern popped on the national college basketball radar. How could it not? The Illini became the first Division I team in the last 25 years to trail by at least 15 points at halftime and still win by 20 or more points. Illinois was also the first team to outscore a power conference opponent by at least 40 points in a half since Kentucky did it to Vanderbilt (a 43-point edge) in 2003.
So, it wasn’t exactly a surprise that Illinois-Northwestern led off the latest episode of the “CBS Sports Eye on College Basketball” podcast with Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander. You can listen to the whole podcast here, but here’s a tidbit from both Parrish and Norlander:
Norlander: I was on the phone for about 20 minutes and kind of paying attention, but not locked in. The next thing I knew I was like, ‘Wait a second, hold on, Illinois is up by eight right now.’ What happened here? It just continued. This was the biggest Jekyl and Hyde performance I think I’d ever seen in my life. Illinois would have beaten Gonzaga. They were that good in the second half. No one was stopping that team.
One coach hit me up and said this team (referencing Illinois) they’re great, but they’re schizophrenic. Good record. Quality losses. But they will go through these weird stretches you don’t know what kind of team this is.
Parrish: What made this so unique is one team was great in the first half and the other was awful, and then it completely flipped in a way that was hard to understand, but also in a way that was also incredibly extreme. I mean 53-13 in 20 minutes? On scholarship, how can you only put a ball in a basket twice against Illinois? Illinois is a good defensive team — top 20 — but not top five or No. 1.