As proud a program as Illini basketball is, they’ve certainly had some “hiccups” (wow, what a euphemism there) in recent years. A 52-49 loss to the Indiana Hoosiers on January 30th, 2011 was just one disgusting-to-watch debacle that didn’t even make the cut. It marked the first win over a ranked team at IU for Tom Crean. Last night, I experienced something similar to “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” from “The Book of Mormon.” I dreamed Illini basketball put up only 15 points by halftime, couldn’t make a three-pointer to save their lives, and missed more lay-ups, put-backs and bunnies than any college basketball team in history.
Worse yet this spooky Illini basketball hell dream took place at Northwestern! Versus the worst Northwestern team they’ve had since 2007
Oh wait, that’s real!!!!!! You can’t be serious
We begin the list at the beginning of the Bruce Weber era. Because it’s been about 10 years now. The worst defeat of the John Groce era was last night; obviously
11.) 12-20-07 Miami (OH) 61, Illini basketball 58
Not only was this a terrible loss, but it was ugly to watch too. It was the first important chapter in the book of the worst season in Illinois history. WTF? WTF? WTF?
9.) 12-9-03 Providence 70, Illini basketball 51
By far the lowest point of Weber’s first season in Champaign. Why do the Illini struggle so badly at the world’s most famous arena?
8.) Thanksgiving weekend 2009 Bradley and Utah in Las Vegas Invitational
I grouped these two pathetic losses into one because essentially Utah “beat them twice.” Exactly like how the 2010 Illinois football team got “beat by Michigan twice.” (losing to lowly Minnesota the next week)
When I saw the dreadful numbers that the UIC bigs were putting up, I thought “Mike Davis and Tisdale, possibly both, will have a huge game today!” Nope. Neither of them showed up on either end of the floor. And in the second half their defense, along with that of Demetri McCamey, was abominable. Weber said at Media Day that year: “we’ll only be as good as our seniors.” And if you watched this game, you won’t feel too optimistic about that statement.
6.) 2-27-2010 Minnesota Golden Gophers 62, Illini basketball 60
Am I especially biased against this game because it occurred on my birthday? Maybe, but probably not! Because of how both teams performed in the Big Ten Tournament, this ended up being a de facto “play-in game” and was the deciding factor that put the NIT in Fighting Illini.
5.) 2008 Big Ten Tournament Final: Wisconsin Badgers 61, Illini 48
This game was somewhat predictable as the Illini made a nice heroic run through the extended weekend in Indy, and just ran out of gas versus a much better team. But again, it ended their postseason hopes, and therefore worthy of a top 5 slot.
4.) 2007 NCAA Tournament First Round Virginia Tech Hokies 54, Illini basketball 52
A 15 point lead in a game as low scoring as this is pretty much insurmountable; unless you have HORRIBLE foul shooting. And this Illini basketball team, which barely got in as a #12 seed and should have been yet another example of the 12 over 5 rule shot just 60% from the charity stripe for the season as a team. It reminds me how happy I am now that Brian Randle and Shaun Pruitt no longer have any place in my college basketball world these days.
3.) 12-30-07 Tennessee State 60, Illini basketball 58
All I could say then is what I say now: WTF?!?! Real programs don’t lose home games like this. WTF??? Seriously WTF???!!!!!!!! WTF!!!!?????@#$#$%#%^%#^$%^#@@!@!#!@#!@#!@#!@#!@#!@#!@#!@#!@#@!#!~~!@!@
2.) 2-18-09 Penn State 38, Illini basketball 33
Not only did lose yet again to a program that has no business competing with them, they did so in a fashion that made themselves and the league the laughing stock of the nation for a couple days.
1.) 2005 National Title game North Carolina Tar Heels 75, Illini basketball 70
Obviously, there’s no shame in this. It’s only #1 because of the gravity of the situation. And the Illini could have benefited from some more fair and balanced officiating. It also might have been nice if starting center James Augustine, the leading rebounder in school history could have contributed anything at all during the nine minutes he played before fouling out. Then Illinois wouldn’t have had to shoot 40 three-pointers.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments discussing: Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Bears and Bulls on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)