Tonight was so big for Illini basketball that even Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the NBA tweeted about it. “Wow what a game in champagne! Big time win for the fighting illini,” the Durantula tweeted. Unranked Illinois took out the #1 Indiana Hoosiers, making this the third time the Illini beat a #1 ranked team in school history. First was Magic Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans in 1979, the other was Chris Paul’s Wake Forest squad.
It’s the fifth week in a row that the #1 team in college basketball has gone down. You can watch video below of how it happened. Cody Zeller was completely lost on defense as Tyler Griffey strolls right down main street for the lay-in. This was perhaps the worst in-bounds defense in Big Ten history. This is truly a rivalry again as the all-time series is tied again at 45.What a night for Illini basketball! But even with this win, the Illini are still a long ways from securing a NCAA Tournament bid, but I’ll also tell you how they can get there.
At 16-8, 3-7 in conference Illinois basketball has a real NIT resume right now. Most bracketologies (projection of the NCAA Tournament field) have them among the first four out.
Here’s what they have going for them: RPI 46, SOS 9, and this is before the big win over the Hoosiers. They have signature wins over #1 Indiana Hoosiers #Gonzaga Bulldogs #10 Ohio State Buckeyes #14 Butler Bulldogs
This year, the Big Ten is so tough that you can get in at 8-10. 9-9 cements a bid, 7-11….uh that’s pushing it. Unfortunately, the Illini have tough road games at the Gophers (who crushed them in the first meeting), Wolverines and Buckeyes. They’ll need to pull an upset in at least one of those to pad the resume. They’ll also need to win the “tweener game” at the Hawkeyes who they’ve owned lately. But Purdue comes to town soon and the Boilermakers have owned the Illini lately. Nebraska and Penn State should be easy wins. It all adds up to…..having to do work in Chicago during the Big Ten Tournament.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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.Follow paulmbanks