Illinois NCAA Tournament Guide & Links
March 19, 2013
Series Notes vs. Colorado
The Illini in The NCAA Tournament
This is Illinois' 11th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 14 years, and 25th in the last 33 years.
Illinois has compiled a 39-30 (.565) record all-time in NCAA Tournament games.
Since 1975, when the field was increased to 32 teams, Illinois has advanced to the Sweet 16 eight times, the Elite Eight four times, and the Final Four twice.
Illinois has made five appearances in the NCAA Final Four, finishing as the national runner-up in 2005, placing third in 1949, 1951 and 1952 and tying for third in 1989.
John Groce has led Illinois to the NCAA Tournament in his first year at the helm of the Fighting Illini program. Groce is making his third career NCAA Tournament appearance as a head coach. He led Ohio to the Sweet 16 last season and the Round of 32 in 2010. Groce's career NCAA Tournament record is 3-2.
Groce is coaching in the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time, after also advancing to six Tournaments as an assistant coach. Groce's teams are 8-0 all-time in the opening round of NCAA Tournament play, winning in the Round of 64 twice at Ohio (2012, 2010), twice at Ohio State (2007, 2006), three times at Xavier (2004, 2003, 2002) and once at Butler (2001).
When combining his tenure as an assistant and head coach, Groce's teams own a record of 15-8 (.652) in the NCAA Tournament.
Groce is the fourth-consecutive head coach to lead the Illini to the NCAA Tournament in his first season.
Illinois is making its second NCAA Tournament appearance in Austin. In 1990, the No. 5 Illini lost to No. 12 Dayton, 88-86.
Illinois is a No. 7 seed for just the second time. In 1983, the No. 7 Illini lost to No. 10 Utah, 52-49.
Illinois is 28-14 as a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Illinois is in the lower half of the bracket (6/11-3/14-7/10-2/15 games) for the first time since 1997.
Illinois' all-time scores vs. second- and possible third-round opponents:
#10 Colorado (3-1)
#2 Miami (1-0)
#15 Pacific (1-0)
Illinois and Colorado played one common opponent this season, USC. The Illini defeated the Trojans, 94-64, on Nov. 19 in Maui and Colorado also defeated USC, 66-60, on Jan. 10 in Boulder.
Illinois played a total of 15 games against nine teams that made this year's NCAA Tournament, compiling a record of 6-9. The wins were over Butler, at Gonzaga, Ohio State, Indiana and Minnesota (2x), while the losses were to Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin (2x), Michigan (2x), Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana. Here is a game-by-game look at how Illinois did against the 2013 Tournament field:
With victories over Gonzaga and Indiana, Illinois is one of just two teams in the country to beat two different No. 1 NCAA Tournament seeds, along with Butler.
Illinois also defeated Ohio State, giving the Illini a total of three wins combined over No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. Illinois is one of just three schools nationally to defeat three Top-2 seeds, along with Duke and Wisconsin.
The Big Ten has seven teams participating in the 2013 NCAA Tournament: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota Ohio State and Wisconsin. That ties the most bids the conference has ever received, equaling the seven Big Ten teams that participated in the 1990, 2009 and 2011 Tournaments. Illinois has been a participant all four times the Big Ten has sent seven teams to the Tournament.
Illinois has five players on its current roster with NCAA Tournament experience in Brandon Paul, Tyler Griffey, Joseph Bertrand and Kevin Berardini. Only Richardson and Paul have scored points in the Tournament. Richardson is the Illini's active leading Tournament scorer with 25 points while Paul has scored 13.
Illinois' all-time leading scorer in NCAA Tournament play is Dee Brown, who tallied 179 points in 13 games from 2003-06. In all, 14 Illini players have totaled 100+ career points in the NCAA Tournament.
Illinois' all-time leading rebounder in NCAA Tournament play is James Augustine, who grabbed 102 boards in 13 games.
Deron Williams is Illinois' career assists leader in NCAA Tournament play, with 78 assists in 11 games (7.1 avg) from 2003-05.
Ken Norman shot .632 (36-57) from the field and .833 (15-18) from the free-throw line in NCAA Tournament competition from 1985-87, the best figures among any Illini who played more than three tournament games.
Nineteen different Fighting Illini players have recorded double-doubles in NCAA Tournament action on 24 different occasions. James Augustine is the Illinois career leader with three career double-doubles in the Tournament. The most recent double-double by an Illini in the Tournament was Mike Tisdale's 13-point, 11-rebound performance vs. Kansas in the 2011 Third Round.
Illinois has had four players named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team. John "Red" Kerr and James Bredar were selected in 1952 and Deron Williams and Luther Head were chosen in 2005. Also, Dike Eddleman (1949) was named to the 1939-40s All-Decade Team.
There are 10 former Illinois coaches participating in this year's NCAA Tournament:
The Illini also have two former players on coaching staffs of teams participating in the Tournament:
Illini Single-Game Bests in NCAA Tournament Play
Brandon Paul has joined Mark Smith (1978-81) as only the second Illini player ever to reach career milestones of 1,600 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 150 steals (details on P. 7).
Illinois' four-win improvement during the second half of the Big Ten schedule tied its best conference turnaround in school history, along with the 1988 UI squad (details on P. 7-8).
With 22 wins, Illinois has secured its most victories since the 2008-09 season (24) and has exceeded last season's win total (17) by five games.
Illinois has won seven of its last 11 games. Included in that stretch was a five-game winning streak, the UI's longest in Big Ten play in the last three years.
Illinois leads the Big Ten and ranks 37th in the NCAA in 3-point field goals per game with an average of 7.8. The Illini have made double-digit treys in 10 games (details on P. 9).
The Illini are 7-1 on the season in games decided by five points or less.
This is the second straight year the Illini have won seven games by five points or less. Illinois was involved in 14 such games last season, going 7-7.
The Illini have held their opponent to less than 60 points in seven of their last nine wins.
Illinois is 14-1 on the season when shooting better than its opponent.
Illinois has exceeded 70 points 16 times this season after doing so just 10 times in 32 games last year. The Illini are 14-2 on the year when reaching the 70-point marker.
Illinois has four victories this season where it overcame double-digit deficits (16-at Hawaii, 11-at Gonzaga, 14-Indiana, 12-at Minnesota).
Illinois has outscored its opponent in points off turnovers in 25 of 34 games. The Illini average 16.3 points off turnovers and own a margin of +4.4 points per game in that category on the season.
Brandon Paul leads the Illini in scoring on the season, averaging 16.6 points. It is the highest scoring average by an Illini player in the last 10 seasons, since Brian Cook averaged 20 points in 2003.
Paul has scored in double figures in each of the last seven games, averaging 17.1 points (120), after a 3-game stretch from Feb. 10-17 where he averaged just 7.0 points (21).
Richardson has made a 3-pointer in all 34 games this season, and carries an active career-long streak of 40 straight games with at least one trey, the longest of any player in a BCS conference.
D.J. Richardson scored in double figures in each of the last 13 games to close out the regular season, the longest streak of his career. He averaged 15.5 points over that stretch (202).
Paul (14.4 ppg, seventh) and Richardson (14.2 ppg, ninth) were both in the top 10 in scoring in Big Ten games. Illinois and Penn State were the only two teams with two top-10 scorers in league play.
Last Time Out: Illini Big Ten Tournament Run Ended by Top-Seed Indiana - March 15
The Illini faced a 14-point deficit at the half after shooting 7-for-27 in the first 20 minutes. The Illini more than doubled their output in the second half, shooting 13-of-31 for 42 percent accuracy. But it seemed that every time the Illini would cut the deficit to 10, the Hoosiers answered with a basket. The Illini cut the deficit to eight points (60-52) at the 8-minute mark, but could get no closer down the stretch.
Notes from the Big Ten Tournament First Round Victory Over Minnesota - March 14
Paul carried the Illini against Minnesota, pouring in a game-high 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 4-of-8 from 3-point range. It marked the 11th time this season and 24th time in his career that Paul has scored 20+ points. Paul also surpassed 1,600 points for his career, becoming just the ninth player in Illinois history to reach that milestone.
Paul's game-winner over the Gophers marked the sixth buzzer beater in Big Ten Tournament history, and the first since Ohio State's Evan Turner beat Michigan with a near half-court shot in the 2010 quarterfinal. The Illini tied the game at 49-49 on a 3-pointer by D.J. Richardson with 44 seconds left. The tying shot came after a 75-second possession that saw the Illini take five shots, including two missed threes by Richardson, and get four offensive rebounds. Illinois then forced a turnover on the defensive end with 14.6 on the clock to set the stage for Paul's heroics in the final seconds.
The two-point victory improved the Illini to 7-1 in games decided by five points or less this season, with the following winning margins: at Hawaii (1), Gardner-Webb (1), vs. Auburn (2), Indiana (2), at Minnesota (4), Penn State (5) and vs. Minnesota (2).
The Illini fell behind 7-2 with 16:32 left in the first half, but took control of the game with a 19-2 run that spanned 11:56 to lead 21-9 after a dunk by Nnanna Egwu at the 5:51 mark. During the run, Illinois forced nine Minnesota turnovers and held the Gophers to just 1-8 shooting.
Illinois shot just 32.1 percent (18-of-56), its second-worst shooting game of the season (at Iowa, 28.6 percent), but stayed in the game thanks to defense that forced 19 Minnesota turnovers, the second-most by a UI opponent this season (Western Carolina, 22). Illinois converted the 19 Gopher turnovers into 21 points.
Senior Class Leads Illini into March Madness
Brandon Paul has appeared in 136 games, starting 87 times. He ranks ninth on the Illini all-time scoring list with 1,619 points and had also totaled 516 rebounds, 306 assists and 151 steals - becoming just the second player in school history to reach those milestones.
Paul was a third-team All-Big Ten selection by the league's coaches and media and a USBWA All-District V pick. He also is a candidate for the Naismith Trophy. He leads the Illini and ranks fourth in the Big Ten in scoring on the season, averaging 16.6 points. He had a 35-point game in Illinois' Dec. 8 win at current No. 1 Gonzaga to earn National Player of the Week honors, and was named MVP of the Maui Invitational after leading the Illini to the title. Paul will graduate in May with a degree in recreation, sport and tourism.
D.J. Richardson is a four-year starter who ranks among Illinois' all-time top five players in both minutes played and games started. He stands 14th on the Illini career-scoring list with 1,458 points and is third in the UI record books with 273 three-pointers.
Richardson was a third-team All-Big Ten pick by the coaches and honorable mention choice by the media. He averaged 14.2 points in conference action to rank ninth in the league. Overall, Richardson is averaging 12.4 points and has made 78 three-pointers, ranking fourth in the league with an average of 2.3 per game. He earned Maui Invitational All-Tournament Team honors and erupted for a career-high 30 points in the win at Nebraska (Jan. 22). Richardson will graduate in May with a degree in communication.
Tyler Griffey has played in 111 career games, earning 45 starts. He has scored 535 points and grabbed 298 rebounds. Griffey recorded one of the greatest moments in Illini basketball history when he hit a game-winning layup at the buzzer to take down top-ranked Indiana (Feb. 7) and set off a court storming celebration at the Assembly Hall. He also hit a game-winning 3-pointer against Gardner-Webb in November at The Hall. Griffey will graduate in May with a degree in kinesiology.
Sam McLaurin is in his first season with the Illini after joining the program as a graduate transfer. He has played in every game this year, starting 14 times, and is averaging 4.0 points and 3.4 rebounds. He is one of the best offensive rebounders in the Big Ten, ranking eighth in that category with 2.3 per game. McLaurin will graduate in August with a master's degree in recreation, sport and tourism.
Kevin Berardini is in his third year with the Illini after joining the team as a preferred walk-on. He has played in 26 career games, totaling 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal. Berardini will graduate in May with a degree in political science.
All-Around Paul Joins Historic UI Club
Deon Thomas, 1991-94 (2,129 points, 846 rebounds)
Paul has also surpassed 300 career assists, and recorded his 150th steal last week in the Big Ten Tournament. When adding those categories to 1,600 points and 500 rebounds, Paul is only the second player in Fighting Illini history to reach all of those milestones:
Mark Smith, 1978-81 (1,653 points, 722 rebounds, 350 assists, 161 steals)
Illini Turnaround Ranks Among Best
Five Key Facts On ...