What the Illini Must do to Make the Tournament


If you’re an Illini fan with a fever for a NCAA Tournament berth, the prescription isn’t more cowbell, it’s this analysis from our friend at Joe Kutsunis at Hail to the Orange: home of the Blogging Illini. He lays out the road map to having the Illini in March Madness.

Here’s an excerpt. You can read the entire piece here

First things first, win those 3 games against the unranked teams. Iowa (check), Minnesota and Michigan have all had some very well publicized troubles as of late and the Illini need not lose these games even more than they need to win them. The math is going to be difficult enough without the easier games breaking the Illini’s way. Besides, what determines the difference between a tournament team and a team left out cold is how you play against teams in the middle of the pack. These should be 3 wins, bringing the total wins for the Illini to 17.

I think it is quite clear that a team that only goes 9-9 in the Big Ten and 17-14 overall is not good enough to make the tournament, especially when that means you went o-fer against the top 4 teams. That leaves us with this sobering fact, you are going to have to upset some of these teams. I for one would consider the Illini getting 20 wins before the conference tournament would mean that they wont have to worry all that much. So is 3-3 against the ranked teams possible at this point?

I am right now going to concede a loss to Wisconsin at the Kohl center. I’m sorry, but Bo Ryan has been dancing the Soulja Boy on the graves of teams that have underestimated him and his team of atomic supermen for years now. Only people who don’t know Big Ten basketball mark visits to Madison as a “free win.” (*couch Coach K *cough) At the same time though, Wisconsin is not invincible, and taking them down in Champaign on March 6 is completely doable. Home courts matter.

I think it would be also a little too optimistic to think that the Illini can sweep the Buckeyes now that the Evan Turner battle station is fully operational. It might be naive to think the Illini can take one of these two games, but if we don’t think we can win some of these games, they are not a tournament team.

So this means then that you are going to have to get a win against either Michigan State on Saturday or at Purdue on the 20th. No one said this was going to be easy. A win over either of these two teams would be the signature win of the season and would possibly be a turning point for this team. A win over these teams are unlikely, but not impossible.

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  1. paulmbanks says

    I still say it takes it 12-6 in conference. which would be 21 wins to get them in. 20 wins, and I guess 11-7 in fine, but then you’re mandated to win a conf tourney game.

    nevertheless, they’ll need the signature wins to pull this off either way. in order to reach those numbers you have to go 2-2 or 1-3 at worst in the next four vs. top 20 teams

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