The BTN Elite Series showcases the 2004-2005 Illini tonight! The latest episode of the Big Ten Network Elite series - focusing on the 2004-05 Illinois basketball team - makes its TV debut on Wednesday night immediately after the Illinois-Valparaiso game (approximately 8:30 p.m.). The 60-minute program will take fans through the season from beginning to end and features new interviews with Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Roger Powell, and James Augustine among others.
Can Illinois return to this type of glory? Any time soon? Well, this year is obviously a rebuilding year, with nine newcomers and only three returnees that played major minutes. Still, they've won their first two games by about 20 points and free bets online has them as a 14 point favorite in the game tonight versus Valpo.
Looking ahead at the rest of the preconference schedule, Vegas will have favored heavily every home game (Nov 17 versus Bradley, Nov 22nd vs Chicago State, Nov 29 versus IPFW, December 10th vs Dartmouth). The sports gaming community may or may not have them as underdogs to the Indiana Hoosiers on New Year's Eve. Otherwise the schedule sets up for them to likely win all their home games until January 18th versus soon the be ranked #1 Michigan State.
Even if the Illini hold serve at home, and have a better-than expected season (most experts have them finishing somewhere from 6th to 9th in the league this year) the Illini are still light years away from having another 2005. Although they have some fantastic recruits coming in. And if Curie high school in Chicago big man Cliff Alexander commits to Illinois on Friday, like many recruiting experts believe he will, the sky is the limit.
You can watch the video previewing tonight's BTN Elite special here on the BTN website
The 2005 Illini won 29 straight games to open the season and recorded a school and then-NCAA record 37 victories. The Illini won Big Ten regular season and tournament titles and spent 15 weeks ranked No. 1 in the nation, including a final ranking of No. 1 in the AP poll. Illinois ended the year as NCAA Runner-Up after advancing to the Final Four thanks to a thrilling come-from-behind win over Arizona in the Regional Final. The show has an extended segment featuring the Arizona comeback that solidified Illinois' first Final Four appearance in 16 years.
So if you watch BTN tonight, you could learn more about the Illini past, and hopefully past is prologue
Catch me Fridays at 7:30 AM Central talking Bears for WAOR Michiana, NBC Sports Radio and Tuesdays at 10:30 AM Central talking Illinois and Northwestern for KOZN Omaha, Fox Sports Radio
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the world; with regular weekly segments on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)
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