Despite Record-Breaking Losing, Seat of Illini Basketball Coach Brad Underwood Cool


brad underwood

It’s going to take nothing short of a miracle for the current Illini basketball team to avoid having the highest loss single season in program history. At 4-11, with 16 games left, Illinois will need to go 10-7 (or better) down the stretch in order to avoid tying the Illini basketball program record for single season losses of 19, set in 2007-08 (16-19 overall, 5-13 in the B1G) and tied again in 2015-16 (15-19, 5-13).

If the math seems off by one, remember there will be one more loss in the Big Ten Tournament. In order to keep his current team from figuring prominently in the “worst team in school history” debates Brad Underwood will somehow need to guide a team with a winning percentage of .267 to a .588 clip (or more than double) the rest of the way.

josh whitman brad underwood illini basketball

Remember, the Illini record as of now has been “achieved” (can’t use air quotes strong enough) by facing largely mid-major and low major competition. The Illini have only faced four ranked teams thus far. From here on out,  it’s all conference play and the remaining schedule includes eight games against teams currently ranked in the top 25. In other words, if you’re going to wager on basketball, like you might at just know that this single season loss record is as good as broken, and it will be broken by a considerable margin.

Additionally, last year’s team didn’t defeat s single ranked opponent, the first time an Illini team failed to do so in 45 years! Also, year one of Brad Underwood saw the team break the school record for conference season losses. These were records and streaks that no sports bettors say coming. Whether you play at the best south african casinos, or anywhere else in the world you might wager on sporting events, it’s pretty hard to predict a first-time-in-a-half-century kind of mark such as this. 

brad-underwood illini basketball

They also didn’t win a road game until the very last day of the season, and the victim was Rutgers. Yesterday’s loss at Northwestern, to a team that was 0-3 in league play, dropped Underwood to 1-14 on the road during his Illini tenure.

Illini basketball entered 2019 with the most losses that they have ever had on a New Year’s Day in program history. The dire numbers and dreadful statistics don’t stop there however.

Take a look at these “fun” facts from our friend @frustrated_fan

How does the coach himself feel that he has performed? Writing Illini, on the FanSided network, provided a great assessment.

Earlier this season Underwood was asked to give his team a grade on how the campaign has gone thus far. “B or B-“ he responded, thereby presenting public remarks that set up shop right next to Tim Beckman in the strip mall of Illini revenue sports self-delusion.

If we are grading on the curve set by Brad Underwood, and Illini basketball has earned a B or a B- on their report card, then every team in the NCAA Tournament has Doogie Howser, MD’s credentials: perfect score on the SAT at age six, completed high school in nine weeks at the age nine, graduated from Princeton University at age 10, and finished medical school four years later.

So that all said, is he going anywhere at the end of the season?

Absolutely not.

His seat wasn’t really warming, in spite of all the reaching new depths losing, and now that 5-star center Kofi Cockburn has verbally committed, he’s almost certainly going to be around for a third season. Cockburn is a consensus top 40 national prospect, and some recruiting services have him top 30.

Cockburn committed even after taking in the FAU loss in person, so it’s clear that he’s very committed and extremely excited about coming to Champaign. In terms of position of need and timing, this was as big a recruiting get for Illini basketball as we have seen in recent memory. Illinois beat out a lot of much better programs in order to land Cockburn.

Who knows, maybe Kofi could turn out to ultimately be a major part of what may be looked upon as a turning point down the road. Also, Underwood’s buyout is $7.4 million.

That’s expensive even in times of good fiscal solvency and high liquidity.

Given all the money the University has had to outlay for head coaching buyouts in recent years, another seven and a half million was just not going to happen, even if they they finish 4-28.

illini basketball

Also, athletic director Josh Whitman has shown, at least in one situation, a tendency to double down, ride-or-die till the end with a revenue sport hire. He gave football coach Lovie Smith an extension and a very strong, very public vote of confidence just eight days after team surrendered the worst loss in school history.

Football attendance was at its worst level since 1962, and Smith still got to both keep his job and get an extension. He even received a bonus as of January 1.

Imagine if you were directly responsible for the worst annual sales of your company’s product in the past half-century, and you received a bonus upon conclusion of the year.

illini basketball

So there was really never any legitimate reason to actually believe that Whitman was going to pull the trigger on sacking Underwood.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation. 

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.


  1. Masud Hannan says

    Both the Basketball coach as well as this athletic director must be fired.

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