Illinois hasn’t heard its name called on Selection Sunday since 2013 and it appears they may not exactly have to sweat out the annual selection show in a few months.
Today, Illini fans woke up to the realization they cheer for a men’s basketball program tied for the Big Ten Conference lead. For those wondering, Illinois (14-5, 6-2) hasn’t 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 Friday morning or days before the Illini earned a dominating 79-62 win at Purdue Tuesday night.
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): 3-3
Quadrant 2 Record (Home vs. 31-75; Neutral vs. 51-100; Away vs. 76-135): 2-1
Quadrant 3 Record (Home vs. 76-160; Neutral vs. 101-200; Away vs. 136-240): 1-1
Quadrant 4 Record (Home vs. 161-353; Neutral vs. 201-353; Away vs. 241-353): 7-0
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 North Carolina State (14-5, 5-3) in Albany, New York with No. 10 Seton Hall as the 2-seed.
Joe Lunardi - ESPN - Lunardi's newest bracket released Friday morning has Illinois as a 7-seed in Greensboro, North Carolina against Memphis (14-4, 3-2 in American Athletic Conference) with No. 8 Duke as the 2-seed.
Jerry Palm - CBS Sports - Palm released a bracket projection Friday morning and has Illinois as a 7-seed vs. Florida (12-6, 4-2 in Southeastern Conference) with No. 6 Louisville being the 2-seed.
Mike DeCourcey - Fox Sports - In his first year doing bracket projections, DeCourcey has the Illini as a 7-seed playing Marquette (14-5, 4-3 in Big East Conference).
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.).
Tim Krueger - Stadium - Krueger has Illinois as a 9-seed in Spokane against Houston (14-4, 4-1 in American Athletic Conference) with No. 2 Gonzaga as the top seed. This would be Illinois’ first matchup against Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson since he was fired at Indiana in 2008.
Chris Dobbertean - SB Nation - Dobbertean has Illinois as a 8-seed against Houston in Sacramento, California with No. 3 San Diego State as the top seed.
NOTE: Illinois has only been in the 8-9 first-round game twice in school history and have 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.