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Illinois vs. Arizona (2005 FULL COMEBACK)

I was going to hit you guys with a full game but figured that's worth it's own blog later. For now, I want your attention on the comeback irregardless of your respective collegiate fandom. 

Irregardless is not a word. 

Disregardless. It's important to set an appropriate tone going into the NCAA tournament. Especially considering the bogus national stink that lingers over our program:

- Can't win a weekend game

- The Big Ten is overrated

- Sister Jean put me in a ball gag and I liked it

The outside noise compels an important reminder: everyone can shut the fuck up. 

There's plenty of reasons to say this/that/whatever, so by all means please knock your socks off. Trash the prestigious University of Illinois and tell me we suck.

HOWEVER. 

It is impossible for me/any Illini fan to truly give up any ongoing national championship chase, and that's because the 2005 Arizona game unilaterally revoked all surrender-related privileges indefinitely.

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While that may sound/actually be extremely lame, it's fundamental to my operating system. And even worse, there's no override. No hard reset on expectations. Just a good old fashioned sailor's albatross taunting me into hallucination. 

Specifically: if this comeback never happens, then I never see Illinois in the Final 4 which means I have significantly lower expectations. I have no flavor for the occasion. It's an idea and a concept and nothing more. Like going to Amsterdam for affordable hookers and the socially integrated drug culture. Sounds lovely but I'm not really missing out until I get a taste for myself. 

That's how I've come to see the Final 4. 

Or maybe think about your friend that studied in Barcelona years ago and still won't shut the fuck up about Spain. Nevermind you didn't go to the biblioteca for a semester. You never bought a Real Madrid scarf from a UEFA sactioned vendor. You stayed at home and nobody gave a fuck. The absolute last thing you care about is Gary's trimester overlooking the Mediterranean. 

Which brings me back to Illinois basketball. 

You either go to Final 4's or you don't. 

That's the most effective way to categorize college basketball programs. You can expect the world or enjoy the experience. Few programs fill the space between (off the top of my head): 

- Purdue

- Iowa State

- Illinois

- Whoever you want to bitch about

That's basically the entire list of programs that are consistently good enough to not be good enough, historically. 

In other words, this is my long winded way of saying we're in a weird spot as Illini fans. We've got enough experience to know how good it feels without really being able to own the experience ourselves. Like a long spring break of trading sodium rich bodily fluids. All you want to do is go back and instead you've become the flight attendant. Somehow you landed a job shuttling fresh batches of ungrateful bastards to the exact place you want to be, probably because you majored in communications.

I've seen it a thousand times and that's exactly why I'm hanging on by a fuckin thread right now. 

On one hand, Illinois is a very good team that can make a deep tournament run. Great chemistry and leadership matched with deep and dynamic scoring options.

On the other hand, Sister Jean already fisted me, hard, in this exact scenario and my ass still hurts. Maybe not enough to use the safe word (Spimoni) but I'd be remiss not to get the 2005 Arizona lube off the shelf. 

Go Illini. 

This is the year.