Illinois Men's Basketball 2013 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Illinois Fighting Illini
Big Ten (22-12, 8-10)

 Purchase Illinois Merchandise

Illinois got off to a great start. In the middle of December they were 12-0 with quality wins over Butler and Gonzaga. Shortly after, the Fighting Illini ran into the rest of the Big Ten and then things got a little rough. There were some good wins in conference play, but there were also some major letdowns and inconsistent play on both ends of the floor. Losing at home to Northwestern by 14 is not a good sign. They scored just 54 points against the Wildcats. A couple weeks later the offense put up 75 points in East Lansing, yet the Illini allowed 80 in the loss. When one aspect of their game is doing well, the other tends to falter.

Big Wins: 12/8 at Gonzaga (85-74), 1/5 Ohio State (74-55), 2/7 Indiana (74-72)
Bad Losses: 1/02 at Purdue (61-68), 1/17 Northwestern (54-68), 3/5 at Iowa (55-63)
Coach: John Groce (1 season at Illinois)

Why They Can Surprise:
With a dynamic backcourt, Illinois can win on any given day if they are knocking down shots. The biggest burden rests on the shoulders of Brandon Paul. The senior guard is a big time scorer. His outside shooting has been inconsistent, yet that does not stop Paul from shooting. When Paul is hot, Illinois can score a ton of points. D.J. Richardson, Tracy Abrams and Joseph Bertrand are all capable scorers in the backcourt as well. Richardson is the most dangerous shooter of the bunch and a majority of his shots come from beyond the arc. Abrams has done a good job running the point, but it is in the scoring column where the sophomore has really stepped up his game. He is a good enough shooter to keep the opposition honest, but Abrams will do most of his damage by getting to the basket. Bertrand will come in off of the bench, although his minutes nearly equally those of the starting backcourt. Paul, Richardson, Abrams and Bertrand will have to carry the Illini if they hope to have any postseason success.

Why They Can Disappoint:
The overall numbers, especially during conference play, are not particularly encouraging. The shooting is inconsistent, the defense is average and the rebounding is seriously lacking. Tyler Griffey, Nnanna Egwu and Sam McLaurin cover most of the minutes in the paint. Griffey is a decent scorer who can stretch out the defense with his shooting ability, but he needs to be more aggressive on both ends of the floor. Egwu is a good shot blocker and a decent rebounder but often gets in foul trouble, while McLaurin has had a bit of a disappointing senior season. Most of the guards are good rebounders, but they cannot do enough to make up for the lack of rebounding by the frontcourt. Illinois just does not get enough possessions compared to their opponents, whether it is by creating turnovers or winning the battle on the glass, to win games. It takes great shooting to make up for losing out on possessions and that has been hit or miss for the Fighting Illini all season long.

Probable Starters:
Tracy Abrams, Sophomore, Guard, 10.6 ppg, 3.3 apg, 3.5 rpg, 1.4 spg
D.J. Richardson, Senior, Guard, 12.4 ppg, 1.6 apg, 3.9 rpg, 1.4 spg
Brandon Paul, Senior, Guard, 16.6 ppg, 2.8 apg, 4.4 rpg
Tyler Griffey, Senior, Forward, 7.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Nnanna Egwu, Sophomore, Center, 6.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.4 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
Joseph Bertrand, Junior, Guard, 7.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg
Myke Henry, Sophomore, Forward, 3.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Sam McLaurin, Senior, Forward, 4.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.8 (114th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.3 (142, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.1 (240, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.4 (164, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.9 (32, 1)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.9 (216, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.6 (102, 3)
Rebound Margin: -0.7 (202, 10)
Assists Per Game: 10.4 (311, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.7 (47, 6)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
2011    NCAA    Round of 64 win over UNLV
2011    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Kansas
2010    NIT        First Round win over Stony Brook
2010    NIT        Second Round win over Kent State
2010    NIT        Quarterfinal loss to Dayton
2009    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Western Kentucky
2007    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Virginia Tech
2006    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Air Force
2006    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Washington

*all team stats through 3/10


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules