Illini basketball postseason opportunities, straight from the source

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After Illini basketball won Saturday at #17 Michigan State, the first win in East Lansing since 2006, people in Illini Nation metaphorically began singing “Everything is Awesome,” the theme song from “The Lego Movie.” (a tune which ironically has the exact same refrain as Kelly Clarkson’s “Since you been gone.”)

However, nothing changed after the MSU upset, the only and I mean ONLY path to the NCAA Tournament was to run the table at the Big Ten Tournament. After Michigan did to Illini basketball what Godzilla does to Japanese cities Tuesday night, no one is talking about the Big Dance anymore; and rightfully so. Here’s the more realistic landing spots.

You obviously know that the home of Illini basketball, Assembly Hall State Farm Center, is undergoing massive renovations, and it started immediately. They tore up that court into many pieces well before midnight. That said, a CBI berth could very well be in the cards for the Illini, who have secured a non-losing season.

A couple more wins and we’re talking Illini basketball in the NIT possibly. And since the Illini basketball program is one of the more marquee programs that would be partaking in either the NIT or the CBI, they would host a game or two, right?

Even if it’s at the United Center, their second home? Or maybe in Peoria or St. Louis maybe?

No, not so much.

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I spoke with someone who’s very high up in the Illinois Athletic Department, and he told me that Illinois will not host a postseason game anywhere. Not this year, and not next year.

Director of the Sports Information Department and Assistant Athletic Director Kent Brown confirmed this news to me.

No Illini basketball home NIT or CBI games in 2014 or 2015. No Illini basketball NIT or CBI games at the UC or at ISU, or EIU or Bradley or Welsh-Ryan Arena, or the UIC Pavilion or at the under construction DePaul arena or anywhere else.

It has been reported that Illinois is interested in playing in both the CBI and NIT tournaments should they not go 4-0 in Indy.

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So let’s look at the Illini basketball postseason resume:

RPI: 71

SoS: 36

W-L vs RPI Top 50: 3-9

Key wins: Michigan State, Minnesota, (sorry, Mizzou doesn’t count here anymore)

Bad losses: Northwestern, Purdue, Georgia Tech, Indiana

Obviously, year-in and year-out the goal for Illini basketball is the NCAA Tournament. John Groce said it best in this video below (at the 14:00 minute mark he talks about the NCAAs, but at the 11:00 minute mark you can hear a dynamic young go-getter with a strong, commanding voice ask him about Illini basketball Twitter policies)

There’s still some work to do to grab a NIT berth.

It’s looking more like CBI in the cards for Illini basketball. Of course, this current team has drawn comparisons to the 1998-99 Illini basketball team everyday since October. That’s understandable, since the two teams have an awful lot in common. The ’99 team made a miracle run of upsets over highly ranked teams to reach the Big Ten Tournament Final. If the ’14 Illini do the same…it will be enough to grab a solid NIT berth.

Paul M. Banks owns The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An MBA and Fulbright scholar, he’s also a frequent analyst on news talk radio; with regular segments on ESPN,NBCCBS and Fox. A former NBC Chicago and Washington Times writer, he’s also been featured on the History Channel. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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