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Bearcats: A Lot; Illinois: Not Much

Photo of Sufjan STEVENS Photo by Lex van Rossen/MAI/Redferns

Dateline: Kansas City.

Your Cincinnati Bearcats spent the days before their matchup with the University of Illinois drinking protein shakes, eating broccoli, devouring boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and working on their outlet passes.

The University of Illinois’ much heralded basketball team spent that time looking inward, thinking about the history of their state and the history of themselves while listening to Sufjan Stevens’ 2005 masterpiece Illinois.

My invisible friend Kevin told me that Brad Underwood put the album’s opening track on repeat in the locker room before the Cincinnati game to get his team pumped up.

It didn’t work.

Before the opening tip, the Illinois players were all whispering “When the revenant came down/We couldn’t imagine what it was/In the spirit of three stars/The alien thing that took its form.”

Your Cincinnati Bearcats soon got down to business while our Big Ten foe was busy doing interpretive dances to “Casimir Pulaski Day,” which is no small trick. It’s a lovely tune but hardly a banger.

Nevertheless, your Cincinnati Bearcats 71. Come on Feel the Illinoise 51.

Cincinnati faces off with Arkansas tonight at 9:30 on ESPN2.

University of Illinois Fighting Illini