Every family has its tradition over the holidays, and this is ours: We go back to our hometown of Mattoon, Illinois to watch the annual Busch Braggin' Rights college basketball game between our beloved Illini and the Missouri Tigers. It might seem silly to those weaned on the opposite coasts, but this is a big deal in the place of our humble origins. We always make sure to make to home to sit in our parents' basement, drinking Natural Lights and screaming at the television. (You can find a history of the series here.)
Our favorite moment was in 1993, a game that went into three overtimes. Illinois had a chance to win it after the second overtime, but Kiwane Garris — until Deron Williams, our favorite Illini of all time — missed two free throws with no time on the clock. We screamed, we wailed, we pounded the walls and then we knew the holidays had really started.
And that's where we're off to now, to watch the Illini go for the sixth win in a row. Our plane leaves in two hours; we should be there just in time. We'll be back posting tomorrow, from a coffee shop in Mattoon, the only place in our sleepy hamlet with wireless access. And we'll be hungover. So be nice. And go Illini.