College GameDay News & Notes

A crowd of 4,143 showed up at the Assembly Hall for ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday morning.

Illini fans began lining up for the live taping as early as 6 a.m.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Orange Krush member Thomas Bruch said. “We’re really excited for the season, and we still think we can make the NCAA Tournament. It’s just fun being out here.”

The crowd didn’t come close to resembling the 8,149 fans that showed up for the taping at Kansas State last weekend, but Illini nation didn’t seem to mind.

“I expected a little more, but everyone’s still having fun and going crazy,” Orange Krush member John Sanberson said.

The GameDay crew of Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Hubert Davis and Digger Phelps made themselves at home at the Assembly Hall, and Bruch was happy to see Bilas for the second time around.

“I saw him at a game a couple of years ago,” Bruch said. “I waved and he waved back.”

Fans aren’t normally allowed to bring signs into the stadium for games, but the morning’s event was an exception. Students had signs saying everything from, “Kalin is a girl’s name” to “Are you hungry for some Billy Cole slaw?”

With the game against Michigan State set to begin at 8 p.m., Sanberson thinks the energy will only increase as the day goes on.

“You don’t get tired for this,” he said.

Picks, picks, picks

Bilas and Davis chose to go with No. 5 Michigan State for tonight’s contest, while Phelps voted for Illinois. Phelps was definitely the fan favorite, and all of the analysts learned the dances of the Illini faithful. Bilas joked that he doesn’t put much weight on Phelps’ pick, though, as he typically goes with the hometown team.

Leading the fight

Bilas also added that as junior guard Demetri McCamey goes, so goes the team. If the Illini want to pull out a win tonight, Bilas believes McCamey must put the team on his shoulders once again, as he did against Iowa and Indiana in the past two games.

A gentleman’s bet

Head coach Bruce Weber challenged Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo to a free-throw contest to raise money for Coaches vs. Cancer. Although Weber appeared a little embarrassed to lose to Izzo, both agreed to donate $50,000. Afterward, Weber said he would rather win the game tonight.