Even when Illinois is having a down year, or a “rebuilding year,” they still get at least one win in over a ranked team. In 1998-99 and 2007-08 (two college basketball seasons that saw Illinois break the school record for losses) they still beat a couple ranked teams- even if it didn’t happen until the Big Ten Tournament.
It’s a hallmark of where Illinois is as a program, even in lean years they’re serviceable. Most experts expected this season to be a down year in Champaign, and that’s understandable given all the questions marks. However, as today’s solid, comfortable win over a top 20 team shows, the Illini might be a better team than you think they are.
This was the first game for Illlinois versus a ranked opponent, and the victory over the Gonzaga Bulldogs gives a lot more legitimacy to their 8-0 record; over the 7-0 with which they entered the game. Now, will they enter the top 25 on Monday?
Like I said in the preseason, the most important player for Illinois this season is M...