Illinois is finally on the upswing again. Coach John Groce turned around what appeared to be a lost season a year ago with a handful of solid Big Ten wins near the end of the season and a win in the Big Ten Tournament. It wasn’t enough to make the NCAA Tournament but a solid NIT appearance puts them in good shape for next year. Transfers Aaron Cosby and Leron Black should more than replace departing Jon Ekey and Joseph Bertrand, and team leaders Tracy Abrams and Rayvonte Rice return. Tough big man Nnanna Egwu and developing underclassmen Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate make Illinois a team to watch for sure. A return to the NCAA Tournament is very possible.
The Illinois Fighting Illini operate under Coach John Groce at the State Farm Center (formerly Assembly Hall) in Champaign. Their best season was in 2005, when Deron Williams, Luther Head, Dee Brown, and more led the Illini to the National Championship Game only to lose to North Carolina. That remains their only appearance in the title game although they have made the Final Four five times and the NCAA Tournament 30 times. 40 Illini have made the NBA although the only two currently are Williams, the three-time All-Star point guard of the Brooklyn Nets, and Meyers Leonard, big man on the Portland Trailblazers. Other notable alums include Brian Cook, Head, Brown, former-Bull Kendall Gill, Nick Anderson, Derek Harper, and Eddie Johnson. Illini B-ball could get even better with this great recruiting class, and the team always benefits from their notable home-court advantage at the State Farm Center. Get your Illini tickets from Gold Coast Tickets!