Illini Basketball Have a Solid Shot at NCAA Tournament #1 Seed

In 2017, the Associated Press ranked the top men’s college basketball programs, all-time, and the University of Illinois was #11. This was based on a number of factors, with Illini basketball having previously earned three #1 seeds (1989, 2001, 2005) no doubt contributing to their massively high ranking.

This year, the Illini could get their fourth ever top seed, as winning at Michigan on March 2, and at Ohio State on March 6 should do the trick; provided they avoid any upset, bad losses to inferior competition down the stretch.

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Kofi Cockburn Still Needs Another Year Before Making NBA Jump

On the court, Illinois sophomore center Kofi Cockburn is a brute force low post scorer with nimble feet. Off the court he’s a gentle giant with a fun sense of humor.

He’s made big strides this season and should be a tour de force come March. If you need some Sport Betting Tips for March Madness, it’s always good to go with a team that has an overwhelming presence on the low block. When you get into the one and done zeitgeist of the NCAA Tournament, every possession matters, and you need a dominant player down low in order to maximize each half court set.

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Ayo Dosunmo Way More Valuable than NBA Draft Stock Indicates

Illinois junior Ayo Dosunmu is the best closer in college basketball, and arguably, the best overall guard. The Chicagoan, from Morgan Park High, has developed a quality that is reminiscent of Michael Jordan. When the game is on the line, you have a team from the state of Illinois with a 6-6 off the ball guard who will take, and can make, the big clutch shot.

We see it game after game, as Dosunmu is now 12-18 from the field in the final 90 seconds of regulation and overtime this season, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Having a true closer is invaluable for a college basketball team in the NCAA Tournament.

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Kentucky, Illinois Biggest Disappointments thus Far, Work to do for March

When the college basketball season began, the Illinois Fighting Illini and Kentucky Wildcats were both receiving favorable odds when it came to the NCAA Tournament. Rated quite high in the preseason polls, the March Madness prospects for both UK and the Illini were looking quite promising.

When the season began, Kentucky had the sixth most favorable national title odds at around 13/1 or (+1300). The Wildcats Final Four odds were even better in late November, only three teams (Gonzaga, Villanova and Baylor) were backed better to reach the final weekend of March Madness.

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Bret Bielema to Illini: Reasons for Hope, Concern and Ambivalence

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The best way to describe Illinois hiring Bret Bielema as their next football coach is.. well, I don’t dislike it. It’s not a bad decision. It’s not exciting or a home run hire, but you can’t really knock it either. The Lovie Smith hire was unexpected, outside the box and overly hyped up beyond absurdity.

The Lovie experiment failed, so steady and safe was probably the way to go now, even though I would have much preferred Todd Monken. The circumstances and situation made for the perfect time and space for the Monken hire right now.

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Bret Bielema’s wife, Jen Bielema, Inspires QOTY Candidate

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With Illinois hiring Bret Bielema today as their new head football coach, we flash back to November of 2015 in this piece from Nov. 27, 2015, so enjoy.

The wife of Bret Bielema, Jen Bielema, whose maiden name is Jennifer Hielsberg, inspired what is quite possibly the quote of the year this college football season.

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Four Illinois Fighting Illini Football Coaching Candidates

The Lovie Smith era is officially over at Illinois, and he’ll now get paid ~$2.3 million not to work anymore. So while this is a rough day for him…hey, it’s really that bad! Lovie was a good guy with great integrity and high character, but he was a very poor fit to be a head college coach.

So where does Illinois and their program with a budget of about $115m, go now? If Athletic Director Josh Whitman whiffs as badly on this hire as he did on the Smith hire, well, then his tenure at the University of Illinois will come into question. Football is where the money is in college athletics, and thus, it’s how A.D.s are ultimately judged.

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Lovie Smith Illini Era Over: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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At his very first Illini Football Media Day in 2016, Lovie Smith roasted me, in a playful fashion, in front of the entire room. He asked all the media present if I have any friends, as he responded to my question about his relationship with his good friend Charles “Peanut” Tillman and his recent visit with the team.

Tillman, like Lovie Smith, is a man of great integrity and he deserves to be the face of the Chicago Bears franchise, as he’s the best defensive back they’ve ever had. The short answer to Smith’s question is yes, on this planet, there are people who would in fact refer to me as their “friend.”

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#6 Illini at #10 Duke Game Preview, Odds, TV Info, Prediction

Part of me really wanted to just do this as the #6 Illinois Fighting Illini at #10 Duke Blue Devils Game Preview: “I hope it doesn’t get cancelled due to COVID. It would be something fun to watch on TV. The End.”

That’s where we are, as “games are being cancelled at a 20-25% clip.” Illini coach Brad Underwood pointed out during a media opp on Friday. “You’ve got a mad scramble all the time,” he said in regards to responding to COVIDouts and trying to reschedule.

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Illinois Basketball Final Four Odds are Very Favorable

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The Illinois basketball enters the season nationally ranked #8 in the AP poll, making this is the most anticipated season for this program since 2005-06, or the third season of the Bruce Weber era. That team returned two starters from the previous season, the greatest in school history, which saw Illinois finish national runners-up and break all time record for single season wins.

This year’s Fighting Illini team returns four starters and two legitimate stars in Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. No wonder their Final Four odds are rather favorable and their national title odds are not long.

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#8 Fighting Illini Basketball: 2020-21 Season Preview

Said Illinois Fighting Illini freshman Brandon Lieb: “Being in a top ten program, no matter what happens this season, I don’t think it will be one that I’ll ever forget.”

“Seeing the talent we have, we’re able to compete with any team in the country,” Lieb continued, “and with that awe factor, it’s kind of surreal, but every team has work to be done.”

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Illini Basketball vs Football Contrast is as Stark as Ever

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If you are a supporter of University of Illinois athletics there are certain truths that you hold dear. If you’re an alum, student, aspiring student, family member of the aforementioned groups, townie et al. you know that almost every fall brings the “it’s basketball season now” moment.

Pulling off an upset at Rutgers yesterday didn’t change that. The fact that Illini football was actually an underdog at Rutgers tells you everything you need to know about why mentally checking out on football is, like the late great Wilford Brimley said of Quaker Oats, the right thing to do.

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