The #1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks, led by the Morris twins, will give Illinois a tremdendous challenge. The Illini have only beaten one higher seed in program history- 2004; and it was just a
#5 over a #4, the Cincinnati Bearcats.
The old MTV reality show "The
Newlyweds," captured this moment as Nick Lachey was a huge Bearcats fan, and one episode
showcased his disgust as he watched the Illini slaughter Cincy by
30 that day.
And it was a similarly convincing NCAA Tournament win for the Illinois Fighting Illini
last night. They destroyed UNLV, and former Illinois Coach Lon
Kruger in game that was much more lopsided than the final box score
And it was their first Tournament win in a half decade. That pretty
much makes this season the most successful one in Champaign since 2006. All the negative emotion about as this Illini team must be put aside for at least one day/night, as they finally played
up to their potential, and showed us what they're truly capable of.
Now they have to do it again- against another former Coach in Bill Self.
Illinois is second in the Big Ten all-time in NCAA appearances with 29; They are 39-29 all-time in March Madness. And only the Indiana Hoosiers
have more tourney appearances and wins among Big Ten teams. Illinois
was a #1 seed in 2005, 2001 and 1989. And although the program has only beaten one higher seed in history, they've unfortunately not balanced that out by "holding chalk" when they've been favored. Illinois has experienced plenty of
losing to lower seeded teams.
They were a victim of the dreaded #12 over #5 at the hands of Western
Kentucky in 2009. And almost pulled the upset in 2007, with the roles
reversed in 2007. As a #12, and one of the last teams in, they took #5
Virginia Tech to OT. Things have not gone well for the Hokies since- as
you probably know.
But Illinois has a very proud history. They're 11th all-time among division I schools in winning percentage, and 13th overall in wins. As of last night's results, Illinois has 13 twenty win seasons in the last 15, 29 all time and 7/8 under Bruce Weber.
Demetri McCamey became just the second player in Big Ten history to accumulate 1,600 points and 700 assists. He's also closing in on Bruce Douglas' school record, and becoming third overall among Big Ten floor generals in that statistic.
Most importantly, he, along with this much maligned senior class, have finally won something
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