NCAA Preview: Illinois Fighting Illini

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2009

ILLINOIS (#5 seed, South, Portland pod)

vs. Western Kentucky (#12)
March 19th, 9:55 P.M.

Vegas Line:  Illinois -4.5


Thanks to Vegas Watch for providing these graphs that measure the moving average of a team’s spread (moving avg.) over time vs. the spread for each individual game (indiv).  If a team’s moving average is higher than zero, then Vegas currently has a higher opinion of them than Pomeroy, and vice versa.

General Profile

Location: Champaign, Illinois
Big Ten, conf./at-large
Bruce Weber, 150-53 at Illinois
08-09 Record:
24-9, 12-8 Big Ten
Last 12 Games:
Best Win:
75-59 v. Missouri, December 23rd
Worst Loss:
36-59 v. Minnesota, January 29th
Off. Efficiency Rating: 106.0/ 98th overall
Def. Efficiency Rating: 85.9/ 4th overall

Nuts n Bolts

Star Player(s): Mike Davis- 11.4 points/game, 8.0 rebounds/game, 53.7 FG%

Unsung Hero:  Chester Frazier- 5.7 points/game, 5.3 assists/game, 4.8 rebounds/game, 1.4 steals/game

Potential NBA Draft Pick(s): None

Key Injuries: Frazier was hurt during the Big Ten tournament because of a badly bruised hand, but I seriously doubt he would miss the tournament, especially in his senior season.

Depth: 24.8%/ 306th overall

Achilles Heel: Illinois is one of the best defensive teams in the country let alone the Big Ten, but they just can’t seem to score the ball on a consistent basis. Davis and Demetri McCamey are the two best offensive players on the Fighti Illni squad, and even they aren’t scary to opposing defenses. Their offensive efficiency is just 98th in the country, and they don’t have a real three-point threat outside of Trent Meacham. Teams will try to push Davis out of the box and keep McCamey from penetrating in order to force someone else to step up.

Will Make a Deep Run if… The Illini will make a deep run if they continue to play stifling defense and if they find a third option on offense. Dominique Keller, Meacham, and Alex Legion all have the potential for big games offensively, and if one of them plays well offensively the Illini could give a lot of teams headaches.

Will Make an Early Exit if… If the shots aren’t falling for Bruce Weber’s team and Mike Davis is neutralized by another athletic big man, you can almost write the Illini off right away. Not many teams scored less than 40 points this season, but Illinois did it twice, and both nights they had almost no offensive identity. If Davis gets in foul trouble, the Illinois offense disappears.

NCAA History

Last Year Invited: 2007, lost in the first round to Virginia Tech

Streak None

Best NCAA Finish: They lost in the National Championship game to North Carolina in 2005.

Historical Performance vs. Seed (1985-present): -0.25 wins per appearance


Six Degrees to Detroit: None

Distance to First Round Site: 2120.17 miles away from Portland, Oregon

School’s Claim to Fame: They do have Michael Jordan’s son on their basketball team, but even more important is how impressive a public institution Illinois is. The Illini are ranked the No. 10 public institution by the U.S. World News Report, and No. 40 in national institutions by the same report. Did I mention that Michael Jordan’s son goes there?

School Wishes It Could Forget: Ah the good ole days of Chief Illiniwek had been the mascot for Illinois since 1926, until in 2007 when Native Americans complained about the borderline racism and inaccurate representation of indigenous culture. Nothing like realizing the University has been making a mockery of indigenous culture for almost a century.

Prediction: The Illini have struggled to put the ball in the basket, and as a result they find themselves almost the underdog in their first round game against Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are a very dangerous team in the backcourt, and Chester Frazier is gimpy. Unfortunately for Illinois, that adds up to a first round exit.

Major RTC stories: MJ Just Saved Himself $63,426…

Preview written by…Mike Lemaire

rtmsf (3954 Posts)

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