Big Ten Spot
The #1 ranked, 14-0 Illini head into conference play as the favorite to repeat their Big Ten conference championship of last year (the local media have more on life at the top here
). Can they do it? There seems to be more debate about whether or not the Illini can go through conference play the same way they went through pre-conference play: undefeated.
In an earlier post
, Illini Wonk said why this is unlikely. Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star ads more on the topic here
. Citing the Big Ten media guide (somehow Illini Wonk was left off that mailing list), Hutchens shows that only 12 teams have gone undefeated in 99 years of Big Ten conference play. Even more interesting is that, since the NCAA tournament started in 1939, 10 Big Ten teams have won the championship
. In that time-frame, only five have gone undefeated in conference play; meaning that Illinois are twice as likely to win the national championship this year as they are to win their next 16 games.
That's especially true this year, considering how good the Big Ten is looking, as detailed by Lindsey Whillhite of the Chicago Daily Herald here
In light of that, the Illini are downplaying talk of unbeaten Big Ten run
. But the Illini are making no secret of their goal to repeat as Big Ten champions. If they do, they'd have a good shot at the #1 seed in the midwest for the NCAA. For more on why that's important, see this post
(hint: it has to do with geography).