The last time an Illini team played a postseason sporting event in Texas, the Texas Bowl in Houston, it was a tremendous triumph for the Orange and Blue. Illini basketball should be inspired by that performance: Mikel Leshoure breaking records and running wild, Corey Liuget and Whitney Mercilus shutting down Robert Griffin III, and UI walloping Baylor in its home territory.
Illinois is playing a big stakes game in Texas again. #7 seeded Illini basketball takes on #10 Colorado in Austin, home of the University of Texas. And like they used to say on “Friday Night Lights,” in Dillon, TX “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, CAN’T LOSE!”
“Texas Forever Lyla Garrity.”
Something Illini basketball clouding eyes and breaking hearts is the shooting percentage of D.J. Richardson. In midseason, he had compiled stats that gave him the worst numbers of his career. Then he broke out of a massive slump by going off for a career high in scoring at Nebraska. The Illini basketball team surged as Richardson became the unit’s most consistent scorer down the stretch. Then the Big Ten Tournament happened.
Richardson went 4-22 from the field 3-13 from three for a shooting percentage at the BTT which is…..well, let’s just say they will need Richardson and Brandon Paul to be on in order to get past Spencer Dinwiddie (what a fun name that is to say) and Colorado. The C Buffs will be a very tough out. They come in with a record of 21-11, and an RPI of 39. They are making their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance, with a record of 11-13 in the big dance. In fact, Illinois might be the best program never to have won a national title.
By the way, the whole state of Texas is shut out in this year’s NCAA Tournament, which happens like…..almost never.
Illini basketball is making its 30th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament, which is the second-highest number of Tournament appearances among Big Ten
schools, trailing only the Indiana Hoosiers (37). Illinois ranks 13th among NCAA schools for most all-time Tournament appearances. This is Illini basketball 11th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 14 years, and 25th in the last 33 years. The Illini has compiled a 39-30 (.565) record all-time in NCAA Tournament
Should the win, likely #2 seed Miami awaits. The Hurricanes are REALLY GOOD, and their the first ACC regular season and ACC Tournament champion ever to be not granted a #1 seed.
Miami coach Jim Larrañaga is the 2012-13 recipient of the Henry Iba Coach of the Year Award, presented annually to the national coach of the year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
In his second season at Miami, Larrañaga, 63, has led the Hurricanes to a 27-6 record, including the school’s first Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles. The ‘Canes will make their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008.
#10 Colorado (3-1)
12-16-1957 64-46 W Champaign
12-12-1960 81-90 L Boulder
1-31-1987 69-65 W Champaign
12-30-1987 86-68 W Denver
#2 Miami (1-0)
12-28-1968 86-76 W Miami
#15 Pacific (1-0)
12-13-1958 85-67 W Champaign
By the way, here’s the Ultimate Illini guide to visiting Austin.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of visitors. He’s an author who also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and YardbarkerFollow paulmbanks