The Illinois basketball program is off to an exciting start that has fans getting more and more anxious to dust off their dancing shoes.
The past two weeks have boded well for the Illini when it comes to the potential of getting back to the Big Dance. A three-game winning streak in Big Ten play is always a good sign. They have also compiled some interesting numbers throughout this season too.
Hitting the mark
Illinois has 12 wins this season in just 17 games they have played. That is a good start for any team, but it is even more impressive for the Illini. Last season, this program hit the 12-win mark, but it took them the entire 33 games to get to that point. That also includes a Big Ten Tournament victory. So, it has taken Illinois 16 fewer games to equal the number of wins from last season.
Defense is key
The tenure of Brad Underwood has been less than stellar, to say the least. His best season was year one when Illinois won 14 games. That season, the Illini averaged 75.8 points per game and allowed 73.8 PPG. This season, the Illini have averaged the same exact number of points with 75.8 PPG. The only difference; Illinois has only given up 64.4 PPG to the opposing team. That means the Illini are giving up 9.4 PPG less this season than in Underwood’s first year with the team.
It has been a while
The 12-5 record overall and 4-2 Big Ten record is pretty impressive for the Illini. This winning has the Orange and Blue on the verge of making the Big Dance. Illinois fans haven’t experienced this type of winning this early in the season in quite some time. The last time this program started with a record of 4-2 or better in the Big Ten was the 2011-2012 campaign. It has been a while.
Took a decade off
Illinois has a record of 12-5, which translates to a winning percentage of 70.6-percent. Again, that is a great number. If we could finish the season winning 70.6-percent of our games, that would be the best winning percentage since the 2008-2009 campaign where we also won 70.6-percent of our games. Illinois made the NCAA tournament that season.
From the 2000-2001 season through the 2005-2006 season, Illinois never had lower than a 74.3-percent winning rate. Since that 2005-2006 season, there has only been one season where the Illini have won over 66-percent of their games (2008-2009).
Boards, boards, boards
The addition of Kofi Cockburn has made Illinois into a scary team. His presence in the paint has been amazing. He has also averaged 9.5 rebounds per game. But Illinois isn’t just about big man rebounding. Their guards have done some amazing work on the glass too. Andres Feliz, Alan Griffin and Ayo Dosunmu average 4.6, 4.5 and 4.3 rebounds per game, respectively. Thanks to this great team rebounding, Illinois averages 41.5 RPG, which ranks No. 10 in the nation.