#8 Illinois 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.”

Yes, the Illini enter the season ranked #8 in the country, and this is the most anticipated season for this program since…probably 2005-06, or the third season of the Bruce Weber era.

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Illini Basketball vs Football Contrast is as Stark as Ever

illini basketball state farm center

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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Illini Football were League Champs, Dynasty Building During Last Pandemic

illini basketball

Obviously, COVID-19 overshadows everything we do these days and college football is no exception. You don’t need to remind Illinois Fighting Illini football fans of this, you just need to say the name Graham Mertz. However, since the Wisconsin OL effectively socially distanced him from the Illini defense a week ago tonight, well, no worries about getting coronavirus from the Sconnie freshman QB.

So how did the Illini do the last time we had a once-in-a-century deadly global pandemic? They won the 1918 Big Ten Conference football title, amidst the Spanish Flu epidemic.

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Illini Football: “The Streak” Could Turn 24 vs Purdue on Halloween

For the first time since 1995, a 38-14 loss to Michigan, Illinois will open their home schedule against a Big Ten opponent. The Purdue Boilermakers, 4-8 last season, but surprise winners over Iowa last week despite being sans their best player and head coach, come to town on Halloween.

There is however one trick for the Boilermakers that could treat Illini fans- University of Illinois football has not lost a home opener in nearly a quarter of a century. Sure, this streak is composed of opponents which are overwhelmingly cupcake, as you have plenty of mid-majors, low-majors, some FCS and even I-AA as the streak stretches back to when FCS was known as IAA.

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One Year After Historic Upset, Illini Huge Underdogs to Wisconsin Again

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of one of the greatest upsets in recent college football history. The unranked Illinois Fighting Illini entered as a 30.5 point underdog to the visiting #6 Wisconsin Badgers. You know how it ended- Illini placekicker and Irishman James McCourt booted the game winning field goal that made Illinois 24–23 victors in the waning seconds.

Their first conference victory of the season, the Illini (then 2-4, 0-3 in conference) were coming off a 4-game losing streak. It was, without question, the signature victory of the Lovie Smith era; it may have even saved his job.

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Illini Gray Ghost Uniform, Red Grange Anniversary Approaching

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Sunday brings the 96th anniversary of Red Grange’s historic Homecoming performance against Michigan in the Memorial Stadium dedication game on Oct. 18, 1924. In that game, the Gray Ghost scored four touchdowns and racked up 262 total yards in the first 12 minutes, then ran for a fifth touchdown and threw for a sixth to lead the Illinois Fighting Illini to a 39-14 victory in what many consider the greatest single-game performance in college football history.

Grange himself, is considered the best player, all-time, in the history of the college gridiron.

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Illinois Fighting Illini Football: What Sports Books, Projection Models Say

When you look at what the oddsmakers, pundits, bookies, prognosticators and projectionists have to say about forecasting 2020 Illinois Fighting Illini football, well, it’s not very optimistic.

This promises to be the biggest college football season ever for wagering, and casinohub india is a place meet all your wagering needs. The Illini will be long shots to say the least, as they have the longest Big Ten title odds of anybody at +40,000. Sports Betting.ag has Illinois at 3.5, when it comes to win over/unders on the season, so the bookies seem to believe this is going to be an under .500 season in Champaign-Urbana. They only have four league teams with a lower over/under on season wins.

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Kofi Cockburn: “can’t we all agree that racism is a nasty thing?”

Sophomore Illini Center Kofi Cockburn met the media this morning, via Zoom, wearing a t-shirt that read “More than an Athlete.” It perfectly summated both he himself, and the theme of the session. Jumping straight into Q&A, he gave a lot of honest and open answers in response to plenty of uncomfortable questions.

At no point was he visibly uncomfortable or annoyed, during the 50 minute Zoom call. The star big man recognizes the very large platform he has as an Illini basketball star, and all the influence that comes with it. 

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With Ayo Dosunmu Returning, Illini Could be Top 10 if Kofi Cockburn Also Returns

(UPDATE: Aug 1, 2020- Kofi Cockburn announced he was returning to school just a few hours after this was written and posted)

Ayo Dosnumo, the Illinois Fighting Illini’s best player, announced late last night that he’s returning to school for his junior season. Some saw this as a surprising move, but those are people who aren’t paying close enough attention. Ayo made a smart decision, one that benefits both him and the program.

His NBA Draft stock just isn’t really high enough now for him to bolt, but if continues his development trajectory this season, he could be a lottery pick next in 2021. That is provided of course, we actually have a college basketball season in 2020-21.

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Lou Henson, Godfather of Modern Illini Athletics, Passes Away

lou henson

Lou Henson was the El Pedrino, “The Godfather,” of modern University of Illinois athletics. If you’re a generation X or younger Illini, then you already know how Henson is the Illini legend of all legends in modern sports. Sadly, we lost the Godfather today, as he passed away at the age of 88.

A private graveside service was held with family members earlier today (Wednesday) in Champaign. “It is a sad day for the Illinois Basketball family and Illini Nation as we mourn the passing of Lou Henson, the greatest coach in our program’s proud history,” reads a statement attributed to Illinois Basketball Coach Brad Underwood.

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Lovie Smith: “systemic racism exists in our world”

Illinois Football coach Lovie Smith and Chicago Bears legend Brian Urlacher are good friends, dating back to their days together with the Monsters of the Midway. A few days ago, Urlacher gave his take on the current state of affairs in this nation.

It was lacking to say the least, and it conveyed just how much #54 doesn’t get it. He needs to listen to his friend Lovie Smith, who appeared on NBC Sports Network’s Lunch Talk Live with Mike Tirico today, where discusssed racial injustice in America.

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Revisiting Illini vs Northwestern 1 End Zone Only Game at Wrigley Field

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“One way, or another, I’m gonna find you!” Blondie told us in the early 1980s. On one Saturday, late in November of 2010, these words applied to a Big Ten college football game. It was more than a Big Ten league game, it was branded the Wrigleyville Classic, and it hosted ESPN College Gameday.

It was an in-state rivalry game as Northwestern “hosted” their arch-rivals, Illinois. Oh, and there was only one end zone in use that day. Yes, both sides have to drive towards the west end zone. No one could head towards the east due to safety precautions. How did this happen? Why?

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