Tonight, Illinois basketball leads SportsCenter. Illinois Basketball is a trending term; so are the Illini and Tyler Griffey, who had his Jimmy Chitwood moment. (We're talking about Hoosiers after all). The Illini stunned No. 1 Indiana with a 13-2 run to close the game, capped by the Griffey layup at the buzzer you can watch below. And they pull off the upset in Champaign, 74-72. This is truly a rivalry as the all-time series is tied again at 45. Illinois was inbounding the ball with :00.9 left and Cody Zeller was completely lost on defense.
Griffey showed great court awareness to get the ball off his hand in time before the clock expired. That was certainly a senior moment. But the Illini need many more of these to reach the NCAA Tournament. Illinois is 10-1 and 5-0 in their last 11 and last 5 versus Indiana at home. But the resume needs more padding to get to the big dance
16-8, 3-7 in conference gives Illinois basketball a very bubblicous look right now. Most bracketologies (projection of the NCAA Tournament field) designate the Illini as first four out.
This year, the Big Ten is so strong that 8-10 gets you in. 9-9 a lock, 7-11….uhm that 7 better be pretty impressive. Looking ahead, the Illini have road games at ranked teams" Gophers, Wolverines and Buckeyes. They’ll need to pull an upset or two to pad the resume. They've owned the Hawkeyes lately, but that road game could go either way. Purdue comes to C-U soon and the Boilermakers have dominated the Illini lately. (Curse you Brian Cardinal!) Nebraska and Penn State are Ws. It all adds up to…..having to do work in Chicago during the Big Ten Tournament. See you at the United Center in mid March.
A Fulbright scholar, published author and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.