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Illinois Men's Basketball Team Plays With Women's Basketball

The Deep Dish could make all kinds of jokes about the headline of this post -- we're sure you're thinking of some right now that likely aren't fit for a G-rated audience -- but instead, we think we'll stick to the facts as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

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The 17th-ranked Illini were taking on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies -- a school located not in California, but about 30 miles north of Detroit -- Wednesday night at Assembly Hall in Champaign in one of those little-guy-against-ranked-team games that the big boys seem to play every year before the Big Ten schedule begins. Illinois came into the game 8-1, having lost only to Texas, also ranked. They've been among the best percentage shooters all year so far, so when they began by shooting only 3-for-13 in the opening minutes, players were suspicious.

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The Tribune article says that the teams played with a women's ball, which is about an inch in circumference smaller, half an inch in diameter smaller, and about an ounce and a half lighter than a men's ball, for about the first seven minutes of the game. Players noticed right away:

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"I never had that happen before," senior guard Demetri McCamey said. "I don't even know what to say about that. It felt like a Nerf ball."
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Finally, the players were able to convince the officials that something was wrong; they checked it out and replaced it with a regulation men's ball. Here's what happened:

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Illinois coach Bruce Weber did his best Robert Stack impression to explain the unsolved mystery and said the ball was on a game-ball rack from a recent women's game at Assembly Hall. Somebody grabbed it off the rack.
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The Illini trailed most of the first half, but recovered to win 74-63. Their next game is against Northern Colorado on Sunday, presumably with a men's basketball for the entire game.