Chicago Sun-Times
With Sun-Times sports reporter Herb Gould

Illini not a lock at 11-7?

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I'm not a numbers cruncher, but everything I know about the NCAA tournament tells me that if Illinois gets to 11-7 in the Big Ten by winning two more games, it will make the field of 65. Jerry Palm, who is a numbers cruncher for whom I have the highest regard, says that isn't necessarily so. That's because the Illini, who have some glaring nonconference losses, have been inconsistent. No question, Jerry, who runs collegeRPI.com, is correct in saying that conference record isn't an official factor. Something just tells me that if a team is among the top five in the Big Ten, and has the quality wins Illinois has, it's going to be in the Big Dance, even though those early-season trips to Las Vegas and Georgia don't look good.
That said, Jerry put the Illini into his latest bracket projection, with a No. 12 seed, playing a No. 5 Texas. (Tough matchup.) ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi is kinder, giving Illinois a No. 8 seed vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech. The Sporting News (TSN.com) also lists Illinois as a No. 12. It doesn't have an opponent matchup, but Illinois already has played two of its No. 5s, Vanderbilt and Gonzaga. The others are Temple and Texas A&M. An MSNBC.com projection has a No. 11 Illinois playing a No. 6 Tennessee, which would bring another round of the Bruce Pearl/recruiting scandal storyline.
The Illini also could solidify their situation with a good showing at the Big Ten tournament, where one more win would mean a lot. That's because Illinois is tracking for a top-five seed.  A win in the 4-5 game would be very difficult to achieve, but it would mean a another quality victory.
For more on all of this, Jerry Palm will be joining Boz and Mr. G today (Tuesday) on their internet show, Talking Illini, which can be found at talkzone.com from 4 to 6 p.m..

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2 Comments

WHAT IF THE ILLINI TOOK THE BIG TEN TOURNEY?
THEY WOULD WRITE THEIR OWN TICKET TO THE DANCE!
ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME FELLOWS, LAST GET THE JOB DONE AND MAKE SOME NOISE IN THE DANCE!

Fifth place in the Big Ten with 3 marquee wins (Vanderbilt, MSU, Wissonsin) should do it PROVIDING Illini don't lose against Minnesota and Michigan AND that Minesota or Northwestern don't win the Big Ten tournament. Very doubtful Illini will beat Purdue, Ohio State or Wisconsin (with Leuer) in rest of Big Ten season or beat the top teams in the Big10 tourny.

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This page contains a single entry by Herb Gould published on February 16, 2010 11:43 AM.

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