Illinois Basketball: March Madness Team Profile and Season Recap

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Ricky Dimon


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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports -- just about any and all you can think of! -- and coaching tennis in Atlanta, GA. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me. For Ricky Dimon media enquiries, please email

March Madness is less than a month away, and this time it’s actually happening (barring any last-minute disasters, of course). It’s going to be a lot different in 2021 with the entire NCAA Tournament in one location, but having been cancelled in 2020 the players are going to be even more enthused than usual and the bettors will be especially eager. With the regular season wining down, it’s time to start looking ahead at the teams that can expect to be serious National Championship contenders. We’ll be breaking them down one by one, and our series continues with the fifth-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini.

Illinois Basketball

Performance last five March Madness’: Didn’t Qualify, Didn’t Qualify, Didn’t Qualify, Didn’t Qualify, Didn’t Qualify

Ranking: #2

Coach: Brad Underwood

Star player: Ayo Dosunmu, Kofi Cockburn

Main strengths: Scoring, interior presence (Cockburn)

Biggest weakness: Free throw shooting

Record: 23-6

Illinois Fighting Illini NCAA Tournament Odds

Illinois Fighting Illini prospects

The Fighting Illini have their sights set on a National Championship, and anything short of a Final Four run will feel like somewhat of a disappointment. Illinois hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2013, and expectations are high after their breakout season. They just won the Big Ten Tournament, and Cockburn is one of the most dominant big men in the nation. They’re a rare team that’s elite on both offense and defense, and will be a tough matchup for anybody. They have a tough road ahead of them, as they may have to play an elite Loyola Chicago defense as early as the Round of 32. After that, the potential roadblocks of teams like Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Houston await in the Midwest region.

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