The Illini basketball team has one path to the NCAA Tournament; winning the Big Ten Tournament and receiving the automatic bid. A win over Michigan tomorrow morning would be great for their postseason resume, and give them higher seeding in the NIT. Winning in the semi-finals on Saturday would further show that this Illini basketball team is finishing the season strong (currently 5-1 in their last six road/neutral court games), but that still would not be enough to go dancing.
It's run the table or else.
So essentially this conference tournament is like a qualifier for the NCAA Tournament. If Illinois beats Michigan tomorrow (tip at 11 AM) and wins Saturday, then Sunday literally becomes a March Madness play-in game...
Illinois basketball won't be ranked again any time soon. They responded to being nationally ranked by getting DESTROYED at Wisconsin by 25 points, and then failing to play offense for 3/4 of a game that will go down as one of the worst losses in Illinois basketball history. It's certainly the worst loss of the John Groce era, and among the worst of 2010s Illinois basketball.
Conversely, it's the biggest win of the very very brief Chris Collins era at Northwestern. You wouldn't think a team with records and statistics that bad would actually beat a ranked team this year. But hey, this is Illinois basketball. Time to talk CBI and NIT, because 2013-14 Illinois basketball just suffered a tournament resume black eye from which they won't likely recover.
Here's some Illinois basketball fans and journalists and sports pundits reacting to the biggest win Collins has accomplished, and the death knell for the '13-14 Illinois basketball season ...
I love it when my two press corps get together! Illini basketball vs Northwestern.
It's going down...I'm yelling Timber. You better move, you better dance. Sorry, couldn't pass that up.
It's just that NU and Illini basketball, and football are the two programs, along with the Chicago Bulls, that I cover regularly. Therefore, the once a year that they play each other is special to me as I "belong" to both press corps. The media room at this one is always a lot of fun for me. I even do a weekly segment on KOZN, 1620 The Zone Omaha, talking about Illinois and Northwestern.
(UPDATE: NU to unveil new publicity-grabbing uniforms for this game)
Sunday night, 6:30 PM at Welsh-Ryan Arena will mark the one time they meet this year in hoops. There might be a round two at the Big Ten Tournament in Indy. If it were up to me, I'd keep them meeting just once a year, and have it at the United Center each time...
While games played at the United Center count as a "neutral site" in the Illinois basketball media guide, for the Illinois basketball program the UC is a home away from home. Saturday's contest against UIC marks the 47th game the Illini will play there, dating back '94-'95. Illinois basketball owns an all-time record of 34-12 (.739) at the home of the Chicago Bulls.
This is a homecoming game for many Illinois basketball players, as half of the UI roster features players from Chicagoland in Tracy Abrams, Nnanna Egwu, Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate, (all from Chicago), along with walk-on Mike LaTulip (Arlington Heights) and transfers (who are currently sitting out) Darius Paul (Gurnee, little brother of Brandon Paul) and Ahmad Starks (Chicago).
The Illini played three games at the United Center last season, barely squeaking by a very terrible Auburn team in December and Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament opening round on a Brandon Paul buzzer beater, before falling to No. 3 Indiana in the conference tournament quarterfinals.
Here is the complete list of Illinois basketball games at the United Center, in chronological order. For ten of the most memorable games in Illinois basketball history at the UC (in no particular order, and these are most memorable, not "best," it doesn't have to be a Illinois basketball win to make the list...
Junior point guard Tracy Abrams is a very big reason that Illini basketball has held each of its first seven opponents to 63 points or fewer this season, something an Illini team hasn’t done since the 2006-07 season. Abrams, from Chicago's Mt. Carmel high school, is a gritty defender and tough leader, reminiscent of another Illini basketball player who manned the same position-- Chester Frazier.
UI is now 15-0 in November under head coach John Groce. Overall, the Illini basketball program has won their last 26 games in the month of November.
“Without Tracy Abrams we probably don’t get it done. He willed us to a win. He’s a big part of what we do,” Groce said after the last Illini basketball game, a very ugly home win over Low-Major IPFW.
They take on Georgia Tech in an important road contest in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in a couple hours. Illinois are slight underdogs to slight favorites, depending on who you talk to...
Illini basketball Media Day was Wednesday which means it’s time to preview the season. The great thing about Media Days are the ability to bring up just about any topic and talk about anything. The bad side of Media Days are the press conferences are more cliche and predictable than at any point of the entire season.
Everyone is “just excited to get going” with a “great group of guys.” Everyone is undefeated on Media Day. That said Illini basketball tips-off with a scrimmage in six days, an exhibition in 13 days and the season opener versus Alabama State on Friday November 9th.
So here are five takeaways from Illini basketball media day, to help you preview the season. Aided by the help of two in-depth team season previews. My own and that of David Kmiecik, college basketball nerd and the man with the most accurate NBA Mock Draft on the planet. Enjoy...
I know it’s hard to think about college basketball when a.) it’s so freakin hot outside and b.) college football appetizers are served tomorrow night, with the main course just two days after that. However, the Big Ten announced its 2013-14 basketball conference schedule, with at least 49 games to be televised by CBS Sports or an ESPN Network. Remaining network assignments will be announced at a later date.
Obviously, this will be highly subject to change, depending on how the teams perform, but if you want to grab your day planner and write down what you want to do in February and March, yes on a Late August afternoon, I won’t stop you.
I’m certainly not expecting you to do that, but I won’t stop you either. Let’s look at where the Illini and Northwestern fit in...
The “other” paper in town has apparently hired a national college football and basketball writer.
Steve Greenberg announced on his Twitter feed July 1 (Canada Day coincidentally) that he was joining the Chicago Sun-Times as its national college sports writer and he also Tweeted that he’ll be covering Illinois. He received the usual slap-on-the-back-welcome-aboard-so-nice-to-have-you-around type tweets from a bunch of his followers as a result.
So this must mean that Herb Gould, the paper’s national college writer and Illinois beat writer, is gone. Rumors have been circulating for weeks that Herb Gould was going to retire, but nothing was made official — until now, I presume. I cover the Illini regularly, and I've heard whispers about Gould riding off into the sunset from other Illinois beat writers for months.
Now it's official, so I can publish it...
The University of Illinois and the Chicago White Sox will soon share a broadcast partnership. WSCR Chicago is home to radio broadcasts of all White Sox games; WSCR 670 AM will also carryIllini basketball starting in 2013-14 and football in 2014. (STEAKS AND CAKES!)The logo of WSCR 670 The Score is blue and orange for a reason. All CBS owned radio stations adopt the colors of their local NFL team for the station logos. Obviously, WSCR got it’s colors from the Chicago Bears. Papa Bear Halas brought the colors with him to the Bears from the Illini...
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and ChicagoNow.
He's been a featured guest in dozens of media outlets including The History Channel. His work has been cited in hundreds of publications including the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.