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.”

You can see the video in full of this press above.

“They achieved great things. We had a double bye. We were in competition the last week for the
conference championship, the conference title. We were in a position to win a National Championship. To be
quite honest, I think in a year there was no clear-cut favorite. We had a chance. I wanted them to experience that.”

It’s true, Illini basketball, after seven years of irrelevance, finally returned. They were a league title contender into the final week. They achieved their highest seeding in the conference tournament in 11 years, the biggest number of conference wins in 15 years.

Where they a national title contender? We’ll never know. He’s right in that we truly had no clear favorite this year. Just to make it absolutely clear, every coach of every nationally ranked team (Illinois was #21 in the final AP poll), will say or has said his team was a national title contender during their goodbyes to this season.

josh whitman brad underwood illini basketball

It usually follows the template that Brad Underwood did here or what Kentucky Coach John Calipari said in his statement on Thursday.

We just won’t ever know who was really right or wrong on this one. In most bracket projections, we saw the Illini as a #6 or #7 seed, and most likely, they could have jumped up a line or two this week at the Big Ten Tournament.

In order to make a Final Four run, Illinois was going to have to pull a couple upsets for certain.

Underwood described the team’s reaction to the sudden abrupt cancellation: “It was a lot of raw, raw, raw emotion. There were more hugs, more tears from the coaching staff, players. It’s crushing. It’s devastating.”

brad underwood

“We all understand that this is bigger than a tournament, a Big Ten Tournament, a NCAA Tournament, and is a valuable lesson to our student-athletes on the game of life.”

“The Illini Nation is back better than ever, and the sellouts, the crowds, and I want them to remember those things, and not just the sadness and the emptiness that comes from not playing, but the positives of what happened.”

“You know, that was a — that’s why it was a tough meeting, because you did mix so many

So where do we go from here? Now that March Madness and Championship week has been ripped away from us, leaving us with only March Sadness. Sports of any kind is cancelled for…well, who knows but the next few weeks are definitely off the table.


Brad Underwood said to the media as the presser ended: “What are you guys gonna do for the next…?”

We have no idea! He then added:

“If you need anything on landscaping, I’m in. I’m available…If you need anything on closet organization, I’m in. If you need anything on how to organize a garage, I’m in.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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