(UPDATED) Illini Bracketology - Feb. 28 - Where Is Illinois Projected in March Madness?

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois head coach Brad Underwood may not want to talk about this but his Illini program is still on pace to end a six-year absence from the NCAA tournament.

With the 74-66 win over Northwestern Thursday night, the Illini (19-9, 11-6 in Big Ten) have guaranteed its first winning season in conference play in nearly a decade.

Illinois is currently forecasted by nearly all of the national projectors with a single-digit seed and most of these projected NCAA tournament fields were published in the last couple of days.


Here are Illinois’ NCAA tournament resume information as of today:

NET Ranking: 36

Quadrant 1 Record (Home vs. 1-30; Neutral vs. 1-50; Away vs. 1-75): 5-7

Quadrant 2 Record (Home vs. 31-75; Neutral vs. 51-100; Away vs. 76-135): 3-1

Quadrant 3 Record (Home vs. 76-160; Neutral vs. 101-200; Away vs. 136-240): 2-1

Quadrant 4 Record (Home vs. 161-353; Neutral vs. 201-353; Away vs. 241-353): 8-0


Here are where the Illini are currently projected according to several of the most noteworthy bracket projectors:

Shelby Mast - USA Today - Mast’s operation updates his bracket every morning and currently has the Illini as a 7-seed playing Florida (18-10, 10-5 in Southeastern Conference) in Cleveland for what Illinois fans would likely call 'The Lon Kruger Bowl' in the opening round game with Dayton as the 2-seed.

NOTE: Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams, Illinois has only been a 7-seed once in school history and it was their last selection in 2013. John Groce’s Illini team defeated Colorado 57-49 in Austin, Texas before losing 63-59 to 2-seed Miami (Fla.). Illinois has only played Florida once in the NCAA Tournament and it was the last game Lon Kruger would coach the Illini (a 93-76 loss in the second round in Winston-Salem, N.C.).


Joe Lunardi - ESPN - Lunardi's newest bracket released Friday morning has Illinois as an 8-seed in Omaha, Nebraska against Arizona State (19-9, 10-5 in Pac 12 Conference) with Baylor as the top seed.

NOTE: Illinois has only been in the 8-9 first-round game twice in school history and has a 1-2 all-time record. The win came as the 9-seed in 2011 when Bruce Weber’s Illini team defeated UNLV 73-62 in Tulsa, Oklahoma before losing in the second round to top seed Kansas, coached by former Illini coach Bill Self, 73-59. The first-round loss came in 1994 as 8-seed Illinois was defeated 84-77 by Georgetown in Oklahoma City, which marked the final collegiate game of Illini all-time leading scorer Deon Thomas.

Illinois hasn't played Arizona State since the 2007 Maui Invitational and has never played an NCAA tournament game in Omaha. 


Jerry Palm - CBS Sports - Palm released a new bracket projection Friday morning and has Illinois as a 7-seed in Tampa, Florida vs. defending national runner-up Texas Tech (18-10, 9-6 in Big 12 Conference) with Florida State being the No. 2 seed.

NOTE: The Illini have never played an NCAA Tournament game in the state of Florida. 


Mike DeCourcey - Fox Sports - In his first year doing bracket projections, DeCourcey has the Illini as a 7-seed playing Xavier (18-10, 7-8 in Big East Conference) in the first round in Greensboro, North Carolina with Duke as the 2-seed.

NOTE: Illinois has a 2-2 overall all-time record against Xavier including two straight losses with the most recent being in the 2018 Maui Invitational. Illinois has lost its four all-time meetings vs. Duke including a regional semifinal 2004 NCAA tournament loss in Atlanta. 


Tim Krueger - Stadium - Krueger has Illinois as an 8-seed in St. Louis against Rhode Island with Baylor as the top seed.

NOTE: The Illini obviously has a lot of history in St. Louis including its last Final Four appearance in 2005 when Illinois defeated Louisville but lost to North Carolina in the national championship game. 


Brian Bennett - The Athletic - Bennett, who did this excellent feature on Illini freshman center Kofi Cockburn, has the Illini projected as a 7-seed in Cleveland, Ohio against defending national champion Virginia (20-7, 12-5 in Atlantic Coast Conference) with Dayton as the 2-seed. 

NOTE: Illinois has a 5-2 record in NCAA Tournament games in Ohio (2-0 in Dayton, 2-1 in Columbus and 1-1 in Cincinnati) but have never played one in Cleveland. Illinois has never faced Virginia before but did face Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett as a player. Bennett, while coached by his father Dick, played in Assembly Hall in Champaign against the then-No. 5 Illini on Dec. 23, 1989 where Illinois defeated Wisconsin-Green Bay 71-47.