Illini Basketball vs #7 Purdue on MLK Day: Stats, FYIs, Metrics


Monday morning sees the #7 Purdue Boilermakers visit #25 Illini basketball in a match-up of, arguably, the two best programs never to have won a National Title. How does one get to that point, you ask? By being dominant in conference play, but totally flopping in March. Of all that Purdue (13-2, 2-2 in the Big Ten) and Illinois (12-3, 5-0 in conference) have in common, these two patterns stand out the most.

Until 2019, Purdue hadn’t been to an Elite 8 since 2000. They still haven’t reached a Final Four since 1980. As for Illinois, they haven’t reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2005. Meanwhile Illini basketball is totally snake-bitten by the second round, having been eliminated in round of 32 in 9/18 appearances; exactly half.

First things First

Typically, one does not preview games when there is still a previous game yet to be played, but these are strange times indeed, and this is a very unorthodox schedule. If you’re betting on this game just like at, you’ll see both of these teams favored tonight.

Purdue is -20.5 at home tonight versus Big Ten bottom side Nebrasketball (FS1, 5:30pm tip). ESPN BPI  gives the Boilermakers a 97.4% of chance of winning, so this seems like a forgone conclusion. Meanwhile Illini basketball are -9.5 at home to Michigan (FS1, 8pm tip), likely this season’s most disappointing and vastly overrated team.

Juwan Howard has never beaten the Illini as head coach, and it’s easy to see why the ESPN BPI gives Illinois a 85.2% probability of getting the W here.

Again, we’d rather not run a preview, with a game still to be played, for both sides even, but we kind of have to given that it will soon be the weekend and we need to get this one in before the work week ends.

Besides, we’ll update this post later with the results from tonight, and if anything major happens, like with injuries or anything like that, we’ll adjust accordingly. The Illini-Purdue game tips at 11 am central, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday) and it will be broadcast on Fox.

That’s regular OTA Fox, big FOX, not cable. It also marks the return of Meyers Leonard, NBA veteran who will be visiting his college program for the first time.

Biggest in Big Ten Play, March Meh

Purdue, not Indiana or Michigan State, has the most Big Ten titles with 24. It’s what they do. Illinois is 5-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 2005, the famous “Champaign Campaign.” The Illini are on a nine-game Big Ten winning streak, claiming its final four games last season along with this year’s 5-0 start. 

Including the 2021 Big Ten Tournament title, Illini basketball has won 12 straight games against conference opponents.

Illinois’ nine-game Big Ten winning streak is its longest since it set a school record with 25 consecutive Big Ten victories spanning the 2004 (10) and 2005 (15) seasons (Jan. 31, 2004-March 3, 2005).

Again though, March Madness is just not what the Purdue and Illini basketball programs do; at all. The Illini have only made one Final Four our of the four times that they’ve held a #1 seed, and they only have two upset wins in their entire tournament history.

It took a very long time to even happen, and both of those were only by one seed too! (a #5 over a #4 in 2004 and a #9 over a #8 in 2011).

As for Purdue, they were upset and ousted by a lower seed four times in the past decade (2021, 2018, 2016 and 2011).

Prediction: Illini basketball 83, Purdue Boilermakers 79

“Defense lives here” (in West Lafayette), but not enough of it will travel to Champaign-Urbana. Illini get a signature win.

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

Speak Your Mind