Illini Wonk
Saturday, January 15, 2005
  U of I or UNC?
Illini or Tar Heels? McCants/May/Felton or Brown/Williams/Head? Who is the king of the court in college hoops this year? The debate has been raging over the past week.

A recent post from Illini Wonk included the following comments from a column by sports writer Frank Burlison:

What we're about to propose might be so obvious that we're almost clubbing you over the head with it:
Based on what has taken place this deep into the season,
Illinois and North Carolina are far and away the two best teams in the country.
And we're not convinced that there is a particularly close No. 3, be it
Kansas, Wake, Forest, Boston College, Oklahoma State, Syracuse, Duke, Gonzaga or anyone else you'd care to toss into the debate.

Stewart Mandel of Yearns for a UNC-Illinois ballet.

But, for most hoop fans, it's not enough to narrow it to 1a and 1b. Most of us, like Greg who posted the question yesterday, want to know: Who's the best?

First, let's turn to the experts. Wait, before we get the opinion of the experts, let's see what Jay Bilas thinks. Since you have to pay for his column at, let's look at what he says on the tube. Last week, when asked where he had the Tar Heels ranked, his answer was:

One. And there's no one within shouting distance of them right now from a power standpoint. I think you could easily say Illinois has played the best as a team.

Huh? Thanks for clearing that up, Jay.

Brian Curtis of College Sports TV has an equally compelling argument in his Thursday thoughts:

North Carolina is the best team in the country right now. Yes, I know that Illinois has been playing great but can you honestly say that the Illini are playing better than the Tar Heels? McCants, Felton, May & Co. aren't just winning--they are destroying teams, including very good Georgia Tech and Maryland teams. If not for the hiccup against Santa Clara in early December, the Heels would be undefeated and #1. They will lose one or two ACC games as the conference is just too strong, but they get my vote for #1.

It's hard to argue with that scientific dissection of the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams.

But not everyone agrees. Luke Winn has the Illini atop his Power 16.
Well, now that the day is over, and North Carolina lost by 13 to a team the the Illini beat by 18, the answer should be obvious.......
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