CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois will be playing Maryland on Friday night for the right to be the outright leader of the Big Ten Conference with one month left until the league tournament.
After a six-year absence from the NCAA Tournament, the Illini (16-6, 8-3) are likely putting together a resume to be a high single-digit seed when the annual selection show comes around in a month.
The last time Illinois won or shared a Big Ten men’s basketball title since 2005 - when leading scorer Ayo Dosunmu was five years old.
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 earlier this week.
Here are Illinois’ NCAA Tournament resume information as of today:
NET Ranking: 31
Quadrant 1 Record (Home vs. 1-30; Neutral vs. 1-50; Away vs. 1-75): 5-4
Quadrant 2 Record (Home vs. 31-75; Neutral vs. 51-100; Away vs. 76-135): 2-0
Quadrant 3 Record (Home vs. 76-160; Neutral vs. 101-200; Away vs. 136-240): 2-2
Quadrant 4 Record (Home vs. 161-353; Neutral vs. 201-353; Away vs. 241-353): 6-0
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 6-seed playing Northern Iowa (18-3, 6-2 in Missouri Valley Conference) in the opening round game with No. 14 Oregon as the 3-seed.
NOTE: Illinois has been a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament twice in school history (1994 and 1997) and didn't advance out of the first weekend either
Joe Lunardi - ESPN - Lunardi's newest bracket released on Feb. 4 has Illinois as a 7-seed in Cleveland, Ohio against Stanford (16-5, 5-3 in Pacific 12 Conference) with No. 6 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.).
Jerry Palm - CBS Sports - Palm released a bracket projection Friday morning and has Illinois as a 6-seed in Tampa, Fla., vs. the winner of Mississippi State/Utah State with No. 11 Auburn being the 3-seed.
NOTE: It's safe to assume the Illinois/Bruce Pearl history doesn't need a summary. However, this is where I remind you, the Illini fan, that an Illinois/Auburn matchup would be the first time Pearl will face the Illini while the Illini Radio Network has Deon Thomas doing in-game analyst work. Enjoy.
Mike DeCourcey - Fox Sports - In his first year doing bracket projections, DeCourcey has the Illini as a 4-seed playing Hofstra in the first round (16-7, 8-3 in Colonial Athletic Association).
NOTE: Since the NCAA Tournament field has expanded to 64 teams in 1985, Illinois has been a 4-seed the most times (five) in the NCAA Tournament twice in school history and have only advanced past the second weekend once in 2002.
Tim Krueger - Stadium - Krueger has Illinois as a 6-seed in Tampa against Rhode Island (17-5, 9-1 in Atlantic 10 Conference) with No. 8 Florida State as the 3-seed.
NOTE: The Illini have never played an NCAA Tournament game in the state of Florida and have never played a college basketball game against the University of Rhode Island.
Chris Dobbertean - SB Nation - Dobbertean has Illinois as a 6-seed against Tulsa (15-6, 7-1) in Albany, New York with No. 10 Villanova as the 3-seed.
NOTE: Illinois' only NCAA Tournament experience in Albany was a bad one against Tulsa. The 1994-95 Illini season ended after a 68-62 loss to the 6-seeded Golden Hurricane in what was the final NCAA Tournament game of the Lou Henson era.