Wednesday, November 30, 2005

UNC vs. Illinois: Then and Now

On Tuesday, Illinois defeated North Carolina 68–64 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.  Of course, the outcome was a reversal of the NCAA championship game on April 4, won 75–70 by the Tar Heels.  Besides Dee Brown’s presence in the Illinois backcourt, just about everything else was different this time around.  Here’s how the April 4 and November 29 matchups stack up with each other.


April 4:  Illinois starter James Augustine fouls out with zero points.

November 29:  Augustine earns player of the game honors with 13 points and 13 rebounds.  He suppresses his urge to yell, “How you like me now!” at UNC players because no one he remembers from April is still on the team.


April 4:  UNC center Sean May dominates with 26 points and 10 rebounds.

November 29:  May sits out the Charlotte Bobcats’ loss to Sacramento with a sore knee.  He refers to his seat on the bench as the “Augustine in the title game view.”


April 4:  UNC and Illinois enter coming off victories over perennial powers Michigan State and Louisville, respectively.

November 29:  UNC and Illinois enter coming off victories over perennial… well, they beat Cal-Santa Barbara and Rutgers.  Gauchos and Scarlet Knights are cool nicknames.


April 4:  The Illini appear to be the state’s only hope for a championship.

November 29:  The White Sox are World Series champions, and the Bears are a legitimate possibility to play in the Super Bowl.  The Cubs remain a lost cause.


April 4:  Freshman Marvin Williams is UNC’s sixth man, with three juniors and two seniors in the starting lineup.

November 29:  Freshman Danny Green is UNC’s sixth man, with three other freshmen in the starting lineup.  So his last name is also descriptive of his team.  Almost as much as Duke guard John Hatedbymillions.


April 4:  Luther Head and Marvin Williams are on opposing teams, with a combined record of 69–5.  Williams’s Heels defeat Head’s Illini.

November 29:  Head and Williams are on opposing teams, with a combined record of 5–21.  Head’s Rockets, boosted by the return of injured star Tracy McGrady, defeat Williams’s Hawks.  Of course, a team led by Tracey Ullman could beat Atlanta.


April 4:  UNC head coach Roy Williams gives his team an inspiring locker room speech before they take the floor.

November 29:  Williams introduces his players to each other in the locker room.


November 29:  The game is played in the Dean Smith Center, named for a legendary coach with 879 career victories.

April 4:  The game is played in the Edward Jones Dome, named for Memphis Grizzlies swingman Eddie Jones – the first active NBA player to have an NFL venue named after him.  And yes, I reversed the order of the dates this time to fit the joke.  It’s my column, and I’ll break the rules as I see fit!


April 4 (Are you happy now?):  Game coverage is followed by the traditional “One Shining Moment” song.

November 29:  Game coverage is followed by an commercial with a Christmas jingle.


April 4:  Coach Williams ends his suffering as he captures his elusive first national championship.

November 29:  Illinois coach Bruce Weber continues his suffering, having broken his ankle the previous day while doing yardwork.  Weber blames “Desperate Housewives” for the injury – he had refused to hire any gardeners, fearing them as homewreckers.


Both teams are thankful for one difference between the two games.  They won’t lose anyone to the NBA after this one.