Illinois NCAA Tournament #9 Seed, Playing #8 UNLV, in Tulsa

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The Illini just found out they’re headed to Tulsa take on UNLV Running Rebels from the Mountain West in the first game (second round) of the NCAA Tournament, college basketball’s premier event. They’ll be seeded #9 while their opponent, the Running Rebels are seeded #9.

Yes indeed, they are facing their old Head Coach Lon Kruger.

Illinois to 2-4 on a neutral court this season, and of course all NCAA Tournament games are played on neutral courts. So consider that when filling out your brackets this March.

 

With a RPI of 40, strength of schedule at 16, ten top 100 RPI wins, a rank of  19 in Pomeroy, 5 in Pomeroy SOS, they should be okay. They’ve also beaten five opponents who’ve won their regular season conference title:

UNC, Gonzaga, Oakland, Northern Colorado, and Western Michigan. Those first four teams are tournament bound. Illinois also has home wins over these tourney-bound conference brethren: Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, Penn State Nittany Lions, and Wisconsin Badgers.

They will be seeking their first tourney win since 2006; when they were seeded #5. They have not advanced beyond the second round since 2005, when they went to the national title game and lost to North Carolina.
Only Indiana has more NCAA tourney appearances the Illinois, among Big Ten teams. In conference play, they are third all time in winning percentage, but first in wins.

Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports

He does a weekly radio segment on Chicagoland Sports Radio.com and Cleveland.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

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