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Illinois Feeling Wrath Of National Prognosticators

Posted by sportsmaven on March 13, 2007

From the looks of an at-large bid receiving a 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament last night, Illinois was one of the last teams in, if not the last. Judging from today’s analysis of the field of 64, most were stating that Illinois should not be in. In comparison to such teams as Syracuse, Air Force, Drexel, West Virginia, Florida State and Kansas State, Illinois fared pretty well, according to Michael Hirsley from the Chicago Tribune. The big knock on Illinois is that they didn’t have a single “signature” win this season, meaning they beat the teams they should have beaten and lost to the teams that were superior to them. Nothing too good or too bad, and that’s the problem. Illinois had a very ordinary season, as far as their on-court performance was concerned. Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semi-final performance against Wisconsin was not very good, as the Illini came out flat and looked tired shortly after the second half began. A win in the Wisconsin game would have provided that one “signature” win and Illinois becomes less of a selection committee patsy, but that was not meant to be.

Warren Carter Celebrates Illini Win in Big Ten Tournament

Now the Illini must hear around every corner turned, and on every ESPN college basketball preview segment or show that they statistically don’t belong in this year’s tournament. A one and done against an upstart #5 seeded Virginia Tech team (and by the way, the Sports Maven’s alma mater) would confirm that opinion. And it’s not just Illinois, but also Arkansas, Stanford, and Xavier as well. Pick’em for which one of those four should be sitting this one out (or all four if you are the conspiracy theorist). The other thing to remember is that the selection committee is choosing only the 34 at-large teams, with the remaining 34 entering the tournament with automatic bids by virtue of winning their conference championships. Mix in some upsets in conference tournament championship games and that makes picking the 34 at-large teams that much more difficult.

I’ve listened all day today to the prognosticators who feel that every slighted team listed above should be in over Illinois. In comparing the numbers, they almost all wash out in the laundry, nothing clearly distinguished one of those teams over the others. That being said, who’s to say that Illinois shouldn’t be in? Well, they are in and should be going home early this season. It’s next year that Illinois will feel the ramifications of this season’s tournament decisions. If Illinois is on the bubble next season (like I think they will be) I would imagine they will be the ones on the outside looking in. All’s fair in love, war, and NCAA basketball.

TOMORROW: Sports Maven’s evaluation of the NCAA Field of 64, thoughts, rants, and analysis.
WEDNESDAY: Sports Maven’s bracket picks for the 2007 NCAA Basketball Tourney

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