Illini Meyers Leonard at NBA Draft Combine (Video)

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The Sports Bank’s Ngozi Ekeledo stopped by the 2012 NBA Draft Combine’s Media Day and talked to the former University of Illinois big man about why he made the decision to leave school early for the NBA.

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Fighting Illini’s tournament hopes on life support, need win against Michigan

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After a 1-9 stretch that included losses at Penn State, Minnesota, Nebraska, a torrent of criticism directed at Bruce Weber and a crying Meyers Leonard, Illinois managed to revive their at-large hopes with an 11-point win over Iowa on Sunday. It was their first double digit win since early in the preconference.

Beating the Hawkeyes likely won’t matter to the selection committee unless the Fighting Illini can turn around and upset the Wolverines on Thursday.

Michigan enters this Thursday matchup at Assembly Hall looking to right the ship after suffering a 14-point beatdown at home against Purdue. Freshman point guard Trey Burke struggled, as did nearly everybody else. The Wolverines need to prove that Saturday night’s result was a blip, and not an indication of bigger problems.

Although this isn’t a must-win for the Maize and Blue—as is the case for the Illini—losing two straight against two inferior opponents would be a bad sign heading into the Big Ten tournament next weekend.

guest post from bigtenorbust.com

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Illini basketball season summarized in one photo

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What can be said of the 2011-12 Illinois Fighting Illini? I’ve already talked about how the coach, Bruce Weber, is 99% gone at the end of the season,  I’ve highlighted how the current college basketball collapse closely mirrors the college football cave-in during the exact same academic year.

I’ve even mentioned how the current team has numerous stylistic and composition similarities to another team, ’98-’99, which set the school record for losses.

However, this picture says it all.

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Illini Upset #18 Gonzaga; Illinois is Better than You Think

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Even when Illinois is having a down year, or a “rebuilding year,” they still get at least one win in over a ranked team. In 1998-99 and 2007-08 (two college basketball seasons that saw Illinois break the school record for losses) they still beat a couple ranked teams- even if it didn’t happen until the Big Ten Tournament.

It’s a hallmark of where Illinois is as a program, even in lean years they’re serviceable. Most experts expected this season to be a down year in Champaign, and that’s understandable given all the questions marks. However, as today’s solid, comfortable win over a top 20 team shows, the Illini might be a better team than you think they are.

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2012 Illini Hoops Most Important Player? Meyers Leonard!

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Last night’s 79-51 exhibition rout of Wayne State was expected for most Illini basketball fans. The most important number of the box score is found in the game’s leading scorer, Meyers Leonard. He had 18 points, in just 16 minutes, that’s a great sign for your Illinois Fighting Illini, because they’ll really need Leonard to be good, if they’re going to be good. [Read more…]