Illinois Basketball: Illini Missed Opportunity of a Down Big Ten


The Illinois basketball team has been undoubtedly disappointing this season with a 14-12 record overall and 4-9 in the Big Ten.

This is one of the worst Illinois teams I have ever seen in my lifetime. That is a sad state of affairs considering the experience that was returning and the level of play in the conference this season.

Illinois returned two sixth-year seniors at two crucial positions of point guard and center. They also had another senior point guard and combo guard-forward in Malcolm Hill. The combination of these four players should have propelled the Illini to the postseason.

Now Illinois is looking for answers after a disappointing year and a fourth-straight missed NCAA Tournament. This might have been the worst time to have this type of a season for the Illini, though.

The Big Ten is usually stout with competition that is extremely tough to beat. While the Illini have struggled this season against the conference, that doesn’t mean the competition is good.

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I haven’t seen the Big Ten this down in a very long time and this year would have been the perfect time to pounce for the Illini. But, they clearly missed the memo.

Right now, the Big Ten only has three top 25 teams and none in the top 10. The highest-ranked team is No. 11 Wisconsin and they just fell to Michigan on the road so they will likely drop. The other two ranked programs are No. 16 Purdue and No. 23 Maryland.

Besides for these three teams, there aren’t any other locks for the postseason. These three teams are locked for the NCAA Tournament and then the Big Ten has four other programs that are on the bubble.

If you are counting at home, that is only seven possible postseason teams for the Big Ten and if things go off the rails at the end of the season there is a possibility for the conference to only get three teams in.

Last season alone, the Big Ten got seven programs in and only one of those teams was on the bubble. That means six teams were locks for the postseason.

Just looking at how down the Big Ten is this season makes me sick to my stomach as an Illinois fan. This was the year to make a run in the conference and possibly finish in the top four. But, the Illini failed to capitalize on this great opportunity.

Next: Preview and Breakdown of the 2017 Season

Now the Illini are looking at another missed postseason and a likely coaching change. If they could have just made the NCAA Tournament this year everything would have been fine. They really missed the boat this season.