Big Ten Country is going to take a brief break for Christmas. My computer's been acting a little funny and slow, and I'm going to take in for a little overhaul and won't be able to update. I will be back in time for the run of conference bowl games that starts on Saturday the 27th in the Champs Sports Bowl (Wisconsin-Florida State).
The next few days will continue to be fairly quiet, but there are some signature games that will provide a welcome respite from holiday stress (or add to it, if it's your team that's not playing well). In the post below, I discussed some good basketball games going today, highlighted by Michigan State-Texas.
On Tuesday the 23rd, the Longhorns continue their run against Big Ten teams when they travel to Madison. Wisconsin beat them on a last-second three-pointer a year ago down in Austin. The Badgers haven't matched up well against top teams so far, losing to UConn and Marquette. But the first of those games was on a neutral site and the second was in Milwaukee. Tuesday night in the Kohl Center will give us a feel for whether Bo Ryan will produce a national contender and conference favorite for the third straight year, or whether UW will have to settle for fighting to be a decent NCAA Tournament squad. Tip time is 9:30 EST on ESPN2.
The lead game on Tuesday night's ESPN2 schedule (7:30 EST) is Missouri-Illinois, one of the fiercest, and most underrated rivalries in the country. Bruce Weber got himself a little breathing room at the end of last year when his team made a run to the final game of the league tournament, but he needs to give the alumni reason to like him if he wants to keep his job much longer. Beating Mizzou would be a good place to start.
On Christmas Eve, our couisins in South Bend have their bowl game. Notre Dame plays Hawaii in an 8 EST kickoff on ESPN in the Hawaii Bowl. It's definitely strange to see the Irish playing in this time slot, but watching the game will serve to keep me awake until it's time to go to midnight Mass, if nothing else. Charlie Weis is in a no-win situation here. Beating the Rainbows won't gloss over the disappointing finish to the season, and losing this game would create a disastrous environment that may set him up for failure next year, just as Gerry Faust entered his fifth year as all but a lame duck back in 1985.
Everybody have a Merry Christmas and we'll see you back here for the bowl run starting a week from today!