Illini Wonk
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
  But how good are they, really?
So, just how good are the Illini? That seems a silly question to ask about a team that is spending their fourth week ranked #1. In By any name, these Illini are good, Mark Tupper is searching for an appropriate nickname for this team, like the "Flyin' Illini" of the late '80's. Regardless of the nickname, what Illini fans really want to call the Illini is "national champs." Lindsey Willhite of the Daily Herald sums up things this far with What a start to season for Illini. Frank Burlison has all three Illini starting guards on his Wooden Award list.

Now, the Illini have had two straight "lackluster" performances that have resulted in wins. One was the annual "Braggin' Rights" game against Missouri and the other was a 26 point victory over recent DI arrival, Longwood.

But, let's not forget what else Illinois has done this season. I just got done watching Gonzaga hand Oklahoma State their first loss of the season. This is the same Gonzaga team who has also handed the only loss of the season to both Washington and Georgia Tech. That same Gonzaga team has only one loss itself and that's to the Illini on a neutral floor. As a matter of fact, the Zags are one of four teams this season who have been handed their only loss by the Illini. When they face the Cincinnati Bearcats on Friday night, they'll likely get a chance to add a fifth.

As this season progresses, the Illini will find it harder and harder to quash talk of a Final Four appearance.
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