How good are the Illini?
Following the win over Michigan State, Illini Wonk published a post
on the praise their win drew from pundits from all over the college basketball world. With the question of who's the best team in the country answered, the questions now turn to "just how good are they?"
When putting the Fighting Illini at the top of their Power 16
, ESPN.com included the following notes: Not much more you can say. Have answered every challenge and rarely been challenged. We're starting to dust off the Unbeaten Watch
. All seven ESPN experts
listed Illinois #1 and several had comments on the Illini.
Jay Bilas wrote: Any doubt, now? Illinois is the best team. I am now on a crusade to get James Augustine the pub he deserves. He could start for any team in the country, and he is a really good player. I love watching the Illini play
Pat Forde said OK, I'm softening my stance against Illinois' chances for an undefeated run. Twelve straight made shots against Michigan State? Take that, Izzone. And take that, everyone else. The Illini look more impressive every time out
But the best quote came from Andy Glockner: Honestly, it's gotten to the point where I probably wouldn't drop Illinois if it lost a game. Illini have answered every challenge in emphatic fashion
Mark Tupper takes a look
at the rest of the Illinois season and true to his promise
, predicts eight more wins and an undefeated finish to the regular season. (On his blog
, Tupper talks about some phone conversations between he and Dick Vitale and Digger Phelps and Bruce Weber. Digger once again proved how out of touch with reality he is).
Marlen Garcia of the Chicago Tribune metions the elephant in the living room, by pointing out here
that many of the remaining Big Ten teams that the Illini will face are losing their stars. Bracy Wright sprained his ankle and is unlikely to play against Illinois on Sunday. Michigan star Daniel Horton is facing domestic abuse charges and will not be facing the Illini on Tuesday. Finally, Iowa star Pierre Pierce has been dismissed from the Iowa basketball team in the midst of his own investigation.
Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl predicts
an Illinois win if they were to matchup with North Carolina. He bases his prediction on UNC's lack of a win against a quality opponent in an unfriendly environment and the fewer mistakes made by the Illini. He also says that the jury's still out on Weber as a recruiter at Illinois
. Mike DeCourcy agrees with Illini Wonk when he writes that Illinois already has Big Ten wrapped up
John Supinie writes here
in the Peoria Journal-Star
that Illinois' impressive wins against Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan State erased any concerns that surfaced earlier in the month. Part of the reason for their improved play is the hot shooting from Deron Williams, who is profiled by Garcia here
. According to Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Illini are shooting back into a groove
and Chicago Sun-Times sport-writer Herb Gould ways the Illini are playing with confidence
Illinois is playing well and seems to be getting better every game. If they keep up this pace, Stephen Bardo might have a hard time convincing anyone that the 1998-89 Flyin' Illini were the best team in school history.
UPDATE: It seems everyone these days has an opinion on whether or not Illinois will finish the regular season undefeated. Today it was the Boston's Globe's Mark Blaudschun who writes about both Illinois and Boston College here
. Here's a flavor: Can either or both make it through the regular season unbeaten? The guess here is that they can't, but in looking at their schedules, Illinois would seem to have a better chance. But if either Illinois or BC pulls it off, it would rank as one of the more remarkable achievements in college basketball history, especially for BC, which was nowhere in sight in preseason rankings