Richey | Illini trending upward in bracketology | Sports

Richey | Illini trending upward in bracketology | Sports

Seven wins in the last eight games weren’t just good for Illinois’ Big Ten standing. Alone in second place in the league at the end of January, it was a feat after starting the Big Ten 0-3 with really only one competitive game.

But those same seven wins did wonders for Illinois’ place in the NCAA Tournament discussions. The notoriety of some of those wins is certainly up for debate — and Ohio State and Wisconsin no longer dropping in the NET rankings would be ideal — but the sheer volume of wins doesn’t hurt. Especially the five by double-digit margins.

I have Illinois as the No. 6 seed in my current projection and I’m ready to move up to that No. 5 seed line with a win at Iowa coupled with a home loss at Indiana against Purdue on Saturday. It’s a serious climb considering the Illini’s position a month ago after being led by Penn State, Missouri and Northwestern.

Turns out most of the experts agree with me.

Bart Torvik’s T-Ranketology also has Illinois as the No. 6 seed, while FOX Sprots’ Mike DeCourcy recently projected the Illini as the No. 7 seed. That’s a more favorable prospect from by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm and UI professor Sheldon Jacobson in BracketOdds, Illinois checking in as the No. 5 seed.

Lunardi has the Illini playing Liberty in the first round in Orlando where Houston looms in the Sweet 16. Palm sends Illinois to Sacramento to play Oral Roberts ahead of a potential second-round clash with the former Gonzaga and former standout Roger Powell and former assistant Stephen Gentry.

That’s all to say. Illinois is an NCAA tournament team. As long as he keeps winning.

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is [email protected], and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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