Connections, Nepotism Brings ESPN College GameDay to Champaign Saturday

By Paul M. Banks

Once again the old adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” rings true.

This time it’s applied to ESPN’s location selection process for broadcasting their national college basketball pregame show. From 2003-07 Illinois had MORE WINS than any program in the nation. But ESPN College Gameday never visited once (not even during the Champaign Campaign season of 2004-05, when the Illini tied the all-time record for single season victories).  But tomorrow “ESPN College GameDay Driven by State Farm” will broadcast live from the University of Illinois prior to the prime-time basketball matchup between the Fighting Illini and Michigan State. UI is one of just eight universities chosen by ESPN, out of 343 Division 1 basketball programs, for a live GameDay broadcast this season.

So it’s finally happened for the Illini! Unfortunately, it’s in a year that’s actually been very disappointing for the orange and blue. The Illini find themselves on the wrong side of the NCAA bubble and not even remotely close to a national ranking. So why this year? Because the school has the right connections.

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