Lovie Smith Optimistic We’ll Have Football in 2020

Illinois Fighting Illini Coach Lovie Smith is optimistic that there will be a college football season in 2020. Yesterday, while on teleconference with the media, Smith said his “glass is half-full” on the matter.

“Eventually, we’re going to play football,” Smith told a group of reporters by telephone. “In the meantime, we’re going to do what we can do. It’s bigger than football.”

Of course, we have a very long way to go from the current mandate of staying at least six feet from one another at all times to packing stadiums for several hours every Saturday with tens of thousands of people. At the same time, it’s also hard to speculate on August while we’re still in March.

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C Doug Kramer to Be Key Illini on Offense Next Fall

“The center cannot hold” as the saying goes.

No, because holding results in a penalty.

But at Illinois, the position is one of the strongest, as rising senior Doug Kramer was rated the third best among all who line up there in the power five by Pro Football Focus. He’s a three-year starter who had started 27 consecutive games before missing the RedBox Bowl loss to California because of an injury suffered in the regular season finale.

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LB Jake Hansen Could Lead Illini to B1G West Sleeper Status

The Illinois Fighting Illini, coming off a surprising bowl appearance season in 2019, could be a sleeper team in the Big Ten West division this fall. That is of course provided the coronavirus pandemic is cleared up in time to get college football season started in late summer.

As it stands, spring college football practice season has been wiped out by the COVID-19 outbreak, a topic that Illinois star linebacker Jake Hansen joined the Illini’s media teleconference to discuss on Monday morning.

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Schedule of Classic NCAA Tournament Games Airing this Week

For many of us, the NCAA Tournament, “March Madness,” is the greatest time of the year. Obviously we won’t have it this year. And while that’s absolutely awful for all involved, it’s completely neccessary and the right thing to do, for our civilization.

Hey, misery loves company, so we’re all going without the NCAA Tournament together. That’s where CBS Sports Network comes in as they will re-air 26 classic NCAA Tournament games, highlighting the first two rounds up until the Elite Eight.

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Giorgi Bezhanishvili Works on Post Moves in Quarantine (Video)

Giorgi Bezhanishvili may not have the kind of season that a lot of Illini basketball fans had hoped for, but he’s still the team’s alpha dog when it comes to having a phenomenal sense of humor.

Illinois’ best player? No. The guy on the squad with the most personality? Absolutely! You can see why Illini coach Brad Underwood raves about the sophomore from Rustavi Georgin, Georgia and his magnetic charm in the video below.

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Ayo Dosunmu: Future of Illini PG More Uncertain than Ever

With all of college sports shut down now for the time being, a lot of questions persist. When will they restart? How does this effect recruiting and NBA Draft early entry? What will happen with the NBA Draft exploratory process? The Combine?

Will there even be a combine or a draft? Illinois sophomore point guard Ayo Dosunmu is someone for whom all these questions definitely apply. He had an opportunity to potentially pursue the next level last off-season, and he will, at least in theory or on paper, have another chance this off-season. The Morgan Park high school graduate has very high NBA Draft stock, but his hometown of Chicago, which hosts the combine every year, might not. After all, the combine is in early May, and the way things are right now, that seems pretty soon in terms of returning to normalcy.

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Brad Underwood Closes Book on Memorable Illini Basketball Season

brad-underwood illini basketball

Yesterday, Illini head basketball coach Brad Underwood spoke to the media and said goodbye for the season. It was special season that no Illinois fans wants to part with, but albeit here we are. We must grudgingly accept it.

“I think you just kind of pause for a moment, and you realize the abruptness of it, but you realize the raw emotion that’s going to be there and how bad you feel, yet in Illini basketball, there was a lot to be proud of, and I wanted to make sure that they understood what they had done,” Brad Underwood said at a press conference on March 13, 2020, about the recent announcements and cancellations in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They brought us back to national prominence. They brought us back to the NCAA Tournament.”

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Illini in Great Position to Improve NCAA Seeding at B1G Tourney

The #21 ranked Illinois Fighting Fighting Illini head into the Big Ten Tournament this week playing with house money, of sorts. This season has already seen Illinois lock up their: first NCAA Tournament berth since 2013, most conference wins since 2005 and highest seed in the Big Ten Tournament since 2009.

They can play calm and loose in the conference tournament this weekend, and hopefully that relaxed attitude will help them get some more wins in Indianapolis, and with that obtain a higher seeding in the NCAA Tournament. Let’s take a look at what’s ahead for them this week, and how that could shape what’s ahead in the following week and potentially beyond.

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Illini Basketball is Truly Back, Ditto for Rivalry with Iowa Hawkeyes

March 8th, 2020 is a date that will be long remembered in Illini basketball history. 2019-20 Senior Night at the State Farm Center saw the #23 Illini defeat the #18 Iowa Hawkeyes in exciting fashion, 78-76. Illinois finishes the regular season 21-10, nearly a complete reversal of 2018-19’s mark of 12-21.

Tonight saw more heroics from the likes of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, key contributions from floor general Trent Frazier and more high-octane level play from Andres Feliz. Just one year ago, Illini basketball was far from a college basketball consensus pick, generated low levels of interest among fans, students and alumni. Last year, the arena often lacked energy. Tonight, led by The Orange Krush who waited hours to get in, the sold out stadium was electric.

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#23 Illinois Fighting Illini vs #18 Iowa Hawkeyes Game Preview

After the Illinois Fighting Illini won convincingly at Northwestern on February 27, head coach Brad Underwood was asked about his team’s fans completely taking over an opposing gymnasium. Overall, the question related to the turnaround of the program, and how the third year coach has brought that which was once down back up again.

“How awesome was that? It makes you smile when you’re a part of it,” Underwood said. “That’s an unbelievable feeling to know how proud our fans are of us. You walk around with your head held high. I’m damn proud to be part of it. I get to live my dream. For fans to come see these guys, we sure as heck don’t take it for granted.”

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Illini Center Kofi Cockburn Developing Faster than Expected (Exclusive Interview)

Illinois center Kofi Cockburn came to Champaign with very lofty expectations as his recruiting rankings were quite high. After a thrilling 67-66 home victory over Indiana, Illini basketball coach Brad Underwood was asked if he expected his book rookie from Kingston, Jamaica to have the kind of stellar season that he’s currently enjoying.

“No,” he responded not once, or but twice, but three times. “I don’t expect many freshmen to do that, I don’t expect that much out of freshmen, but I’ve been blessed in having him and Ayo (Dosunmu, who was a huge contributor as a frosh last season).”

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How Ayo Dosunmu Became a Dominant Closer

ayo dosunmu

The Indiana Hoosiers were unranked and coming off a humiliating defeat at the hands of their greatest rival. Still they refused to go away until one Illinois Fighting Illini made a huge three that would ultimately prove critical to the final result.

You already know who it is- Ayo Dosunmu, the sophomore from Chicago who has been captain clutch for the orange and blue this season. You saw it at Wisconsin, versus Rutgers and Northwestern, at Michigan (probably his finest hour) Minnesota, at Penn State (another classic example) and of course today.

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