Here's the box score. I'm not going to elaborate on the game much. Minnesota owned the first half of the first half, and IU stormed back in the next 20 minutes so that the teams could fight it out at the end. While I don't think any of the foul calls in IU's favor at the end were bad calls, I do admit that it's unusual for officials to blow the whistle so often in the closing seconds. I think officials should apply the same rules in the last 30 seconds that they apply in the first 39:30, but unquestionably, IU benefited from this rarity but could not capitalize. I have a hard time blaming Dan Dakich for much regarding this team. He's in an tough spot. But Dakich was on the bench as an assistant coach for the 1987 NCAA final. In light of that and Knight's philosophy on guarding the in-bounds man (Derrick Coleman in the 1987 game--He threw a full court pass with one second remaining that was intercepted by Keith Smart), I was surprised that Dakich had Jordan Crawford guarding the in-bounds pass instead of serving as a free safety. Perhaps Dakich feared, given how whistle-happy the officials had been at IU's end of the court, that a 5 on 4 situation might increase the risk of a foul.
I may come back later and break down the box score, but probably not. Yesterday, PJS mocked the common cliche that it's tough to beat a team three times in a season. While it isn't universally true, when the twice vanquished team is a decent, well-coached team (as opposed to a cellar-dweller), I think it applies. Now the shoe is on the other foot. As PJS reports today, Illinois has defeated Minnesota 19 times in a row, including twice this season.
Well, perhaps the only people more disappointed than IU and Purdue players and fans in yesterday's results are Jim Delany and ticket brokers. As I discussed earlier, both sides of the most intense rivalry in the conference have been down during the 11 year history of the conference tournament. Just when it looked as if the Big Ten was looking at a marquee semifinal matchup and a local school in the final, Illinois and Minnesota intervened. It will make for some compelling TV, however. Both the Illinois-Minnesota semifinal and the title game now will be essentially NCAA play-in games. I'm sure I speak for 99 percent of IU fans when I say go Gophers. Better Tubby than Squeaky.