Nov 28, 2012; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini fans react during the first half against Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

On This Date In Illinois Fighting Illini History: #1 Illinois Advances to Elite Eight (Video)

On March 24th, 2005, the #1 Illinois Fighting Illini faced off against the 12th-seeded Milwaukee Panthers in the Sweet 16 of the Chicago Regional of the 2005 NCAA Tournament.

The Illini came into this Sweet 16 match-up with a 34-1 overall record and one of the more favored paths to the National Championship.

However, the Milwaukee Panthers were the true Cinderellas of the 2005 tournament. This Panther squad, coached by Bruce Pearl, were the highest numbered seed alive in the Sweet 16 and beat the 5th-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide and the 4th-seeded Boston College Eagles in their first two games.

The Panthers hung with the #1 ranked Illini for the entire first half where they once trailed 29-26, but the top-ranked Illini went on a run to push their lead to 39-32 at the half.

However, the Illini were able to coast to a victory after maintaining a double-digit margin for most of the second half. Luther Head was able to hit a final dagger three with just over a minute left to push the Illinois lead to 12.

All five of the starters for Illinois finished with double-digit points in the game. Deron Williams and Dee Brown led the team with 21 points each while Roger Powell Jr., Luther Head, and James Augustine finished with 12, 12, and 11 points respectively.

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Tags: 2005 NCAA Tournament Basketball Deron Williams Illinois Fighting Illini

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