Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans completed the 1999-00 Big Ten schedule with a 114-63 drubbing of Michigan. This game was on March 4th, 2000.
A month later the Spartans were national champions.
Bruce Weber and his Illini's 37-win season resulted in nothing more than to play second fiddle to North Carolina.
"When you really study the (2004-05) season, we were two or three possessions away from total perfection," coach Weber said when looking back at the last second loss to Ohio State and a few missed opportunities in the national title game.
Sometimes all a team needs is a second chance to make things right.
But if these teams truly wanted to win, they had a funny way of demonstrating it on the court. Both Illinois (6 of 18) and Michigan State (7 of 20) could not find the touch from beyond the arc. Free-throw shooting was just as atrocious, with the Illini finishing at 60-percent and the Spartans at 59-percent.
The first half was an offensive struggle. Neither team pulled away with commanding leads, nor did they eclipse 30 points in the first 20 minutes.
Let's fast forward to the frantic last five minutes of the ball game.
Dee Brown knocks out a jumper off the pass from James Augustine. Illinois was up eight and a victory was all but locked up.
"A lot of times you are searching for one leader on your team," coach Weber said. "We were so fortunate to have Deron (Williams) and Dee as leaders."
Under two minutes to go and the Spartans gasping for life, a young Jason Richardson woke up the crowd with a thunderous dunk. David Thomas followed with a three-pointer, and Michigan State cut the lead to three.
Thirty seconds to go in the game, MSU with the rock and a chance to tie. They work the ball around and get it in the hands of one of the famous "Flintstones", Morris Peterson. With his, and the Spartans', season hanging on this very shot, Peterson confidently stroked a three as the Spartan faithful went wild.
Illinois, knowing they still had a chance to win, pushed the ball down court, and with one second remaining Dee Brown knocked down a game-tying jumper.
Heartbreak for Michigan State, right? Well, not yet.
The Spartans reacted with a quick heave down court to a wide open Mo' Pete' and he buried a jumper as time expired, sending the game into OT.
However, jubiliation for Spartanville was short-lived. Tom Izzo watched as his team only enjoyed one lead in the extra five minutes. And when Illinois took a four point lead in the final 45 seconds, the Spartans' last dance ended.
The Orange Crush of Illinois advance to the "Bracket of Classics" championship game with an overtime win, 82-76.
Player of the game: Deron Williams (29 points)
Winning Percentage of 101 Simulations: Illinois 2004-05 (77%)