CHICAGO – It’s been a successful 24 hours for the program both on and off the court, though Friday was a little more stressful for Illini basketball.
Facing struggling Nebraska, Illinois fell behind by nine points to start the game, battled back, and found themselves in a back-and-forth battle for 40 minutes.
Luckily, Ayo Dosunmu was there to save the day, tying the game with a hoop in the final minute then scored seven in overtime in a 77-72 Illini victory. In a performance that continues to bolster his National Player of the Year candidacy, Dosunmu scored 31 points in helping his team to their fifth-straight victory.
At 14-5 on the season and 10-3 in the Big Ten, Brad Underwood’s team is looking like the group that many expected back in November. So far, the NCAA Selection Committee would agree, and they showed it on Saturday.
The first “Bracket Preview” was released on Saturday and Illinois was quite high on it, placing fifth overall and labeled as a two seed for the NCAA Tournament about a month before selection Sunday.
Fellow Big Ten teams Michigan and Ohio State are above the Illini with No. 1 seeds while Iowa is ranked 13th.
If this were to hold, this would be the school’s highest seed in an NCAA Tournament since they made the national championship game in 2005. Illinois has only been a No. 2 seed in the tournament one time in their history, advancing to the Elite Eight in that spot back in 1984.
Of course, there is still a lot of basketball to be players for the Illini from now till the seeds are picked, with games against the Wolverines, Buckeyes, and No. 21 Wisconsin looming. But for now, so far so good for a team with so many expectations.