Topic 1: They certainly looked pretty good all year but could not close the season with a perfect record. Now 29-1, the Illinois Illini will look to regroup for the Big Ten tourney and take their solid team a long way into March. Was the loss to Ohio State a good thing for Illinois?
Baker: I said it before, that if they lost a game I would pick them to win the National Championship.
Bondy: I didn't think a mature team like Illinois would need to lose. I actually feel like they have less of a chance at winning it all now, but I have no reason to support that claim.
Baker: Even though most people thought they weren't playing under pressure, that can't be true. They have to face all the questions every night – that's pressure.
Bondy: We shall see soon how they respond to the loss. If they play well in the conference tourney, they could carry that over and be cutting down the nets at the end of the year.
Topic 2: The NCAA has come up with new academic provisions that each school must follow. Each university and team is evaluated on a scale of 1-1000 (1000 being the best). If the schools do not receive a certain score, they start to lose scholarships and are put on probation. All teams were scored this year as a precautionary measure and given warnings. The rules will be serious next year. Is this good for the NCAA or will it take away from the athletic excellence of college sports?
Bondy: I think it's a great idea. The athletes who deserve to be on the field, will be.
Baker: As mentioned in previous columns, they are called student-athletes. The NCAA is finally recognizing that schools are taking advantage of dumb athletes.
Bondy: Well, teams like Florida State and Miami are screwed.
Baker: Grambling has like a 2 percent athlete graduation rate. But high-profile program such as the Southern California Trojans football team failed the preliminary test.
Topic 3: Question and Answer
Baker: Is North Carolina a legitimate contender as March Madness kicks off?
Bondy: Absolutely. Right behind UConn, the Tar Heels are my favorite to win. Duke will choke of course.
Bondy: Does Arnold Schwartzenegger really care about a steroid crackdown?
Baker: Yeah, right. He probably still juices.
Baker: Will John Smoltz go into the Hall of Fame as a starter or closer?
Bondy: Why not both? But if I have to choose, I'd say a starter.
Topic 4: The Mountain West Conference kicks off this Thursday in Denver. The
No. 8-seeded Rams will have to face conference champ and nationally ranked
Utah. In the third matchup this year, can CSU sneak a victory by the Utes?
Bondy: It's hard to beat any team three times in one year. The Utes are a very
strong team, however, and CSU has had difficulty winning on the road.
Baker: Late-season runs have become a staple of CSU basketball. They beat a
No. 1 seed last year. It's possible.
Bondy: The Rams will need a perfect game plan on both ends of the court to
keep the game close.
Baker: It's been the tail of two halves all season. The Rams have shown they
can play very well in spurts, but it will take 40 minutes to win this one.
Bondy: The seniors will go out with a bang but it won't be enough to match Bogut. Utah-78 CSU-69.
Baker: If CSU wins, it'll be by one or two in overtime. CSU-89 Utah-88