Illinois in the NCAA Tournament
When CBS announced the brackets for the NCAA Tournament, Illinois, at 32-1, earned the Top Overall Number One Seed
and the #1 seed in the Chicago
region. CBS SportsLine senior asked How can the 2005 NCAA bracket have four No. 1 seeds if the Chicago Region has four all by itself?
Despite the tough road, Doyel still picks Illinois to win the region of doom
and says they might just be the 2005 national champion
. In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, columnist Jeff Gordon concurs and says Illini won't have easy road to St. Louis
. (In a dissenting opinion, Mike Lopresti calls the Chicago bracket probably the thinnest of the four
For Illinois, it's Two goals down, one to go
. As has been discussed on this blog previously, if Illinois
goes to the final game, they will play two games in Indianapolis, two games in Chicago and two games in St. Louis. All of those sites are within a bus ride of Champaign and led AP writer Nancy Armour to pronounce Illinois couldn't have a better draw unless the NCAA tournament was moved to Assembly Hall
Because Chicago is a Thursday/Saturday bracket, Illinois does not play the winner of the "play-in game" but instead looks forward to a first-round contest against the 20-12 Fairleigh Dickinson Knights. When told of their opponent, the Knights' head coach said they are definitely feeding us to the lions
. The Knights made it to the NCAA's by winning the Northeast Conference tournament. The game tips off at 8:40 p.m. CST. If nothing else, at least FDU earned an article in the New York Times
So, how will the Illini do in the NCAA Tournament? Stewart Mandell of Sports Illustrated
says Forecasting the 2005 NCAA tournament boils down to one central issue: Are you or are you not an Illinois believer?
At NBCSports.com, Ray Glier says Illinois has lost enough lately. The unbeaten season. Bruce Weber’s mom. They won’t lose again
.Illini Wonk's Thoughts
With the Chicago bracket named first, this blogger's first reaction was that Illinois drew an unreasonably tough draw to get to the Final Four. However, as the rest of the field unfolded, it became apparent that there are a lot of good teams this year and a lot of parity. Bottom line: there are no easy games left after the first round. With that said, the Illini have arguably the toughest teams to face before St. Louis. Within the last few weeks, Oklahoma State, Arizona and Boston College were all talked about as potential #1 seeds in the tournament and none of them will be easy wins.Illini NCAA Tournament Bites...
...If you're curious about Illinois' history in the NCAA Tournament, ESPN.com has your fix
...On their Bracketology special, five of the seven ESPN analysts picked Illinois to make the championship game with three (Jay Billas, Rick Majerus and Digger Phelps) picking them to win the title...On his blog, Mark Tupper tells Illinois fans not too worry, but to place great faith in our head coach
...With all the talk this season about Illinoi's passing and defending, New York Times writer Pete Thamel (in at least his third article of the season on the Illini) says don't forget about the midrange jumper
...Illinois is 13-0 vs. teams that made the NCAA Tournament...