Posts Tagged ‘Illinois Fighting Illini’

Nathan Scheelhaase

The Fighting Illini were arguably the biggest surprise team last season in the Big Ten.  The Illini were a popular pick to finish last in the Big Ten, but surprised everyone to make a bowl.

They finished the the season 7-6 including a bowl win over the Baylor Bears.  A big reason for the success was the complete 360 the Illini did on defense last season, except for the 65-63 loss to Michigan, where it seemed as though neither defense wanted to hit anyone.

After the season, however, the Illini lost a ton of juniors to the N.F.L Draft.  They lost starting running back Mikel LeShoure, defensive lineman Corey Liuget, and linebacker Martez Wilson.

A running back really didn’t emerge over the spring practices, and while I would say that Jason Ford would be the guy, we will have to see what happens with his recent arrest. 



Nathan Scheelhaase

Illinois was a major surprise team in the Big Ten last season, going 7-6 overall, including a win in their bowl game.  This team was picked by many to pick in the bottom 3 of the Big Ten last season, but new coordinators proved to be the difference for the Illini.

However, this spring is once again marked by big questions.  Illinois loses a ton of talent from last year’s surprise team, and must find capable replacements right away to build on the momentum they built last season.

One of the major questions Illinois must answer this season is the huge hole left in the backfield by the departing Mikel LeShoure.  LeShoure simply was the best running back in the Big Ten last year, and many draft experts, including our own Sayre Bedinger, have him as the 2nd best running back on their board.


March Madness has come to Big Ten Country

The Big Ten fared very well on selection Sunday sending seven of eleven teams to the Big Dance.  Only the Big East fared better, sending eleven teams albeit with a much bigger conference. 

Earning the overall number one seed and playing in the East region is the Ohio State Buckeyes.  The Buckeyes have been impressive all season and should make a deep tourney run.  Leading the Buckeyes is freshman forward Jared Sullinger, who will likely make the jump to the NBA after this season.  No reason not to expect at least an elite eight appearance by the Buckeyes this season.

Two Big Ten teams will be making an appearance in the West region this year.  The eighth seeded Michigan Wolverines will be facing the ninth seeded Tennessee Volunteers to start off.  This is an intriguing match-up as both teams are very solid so it should be one of the better round two games this year.