Illinois Basketball: Joe Lunardi has Illini in updated 2021 bracketology

It is late July, so what should Illinois basketball fans be doing?

Looking at bracketology predictions for the 2021 NCAA tournament, obviously.

That is right, you heard me correctly. You aren’t delusional from the scorching temperatures outside. The NCAA tournament, albeit quite far away, is always in the back of the mind when it comes to Illinois basketball.

The postseason is something us Illini fans haven’t had much experience with in recent years. The good times with Lon Kruger, Bill Self and the beginning of the Bruce Weber era are something of a distant memory now. Most Illinois fans just want to see an NCAA tournament game once again.

Illinois would have had that chance in 2020 if it wasn’t for a worldwide pandemic. On a sports level, this pandemic ruined what Illini fans had been waiting for since Miami (FL) got lucky against the first-year John Groce Illinois basketball team.

But while this season was canceled, there will always be another one. So, it is time to look forward to the 2020-21 campaign. That is what Joe Lunardi of ESPN is doing anyways.

Lunardi, the bracketologist for ESPN, released an updated bracket for the 2021 NCAA tournament. I firmly believe the Illini would have been somewhere between a No. 6 and No. 8 seed this past season. But Lunardi now has them dropping down and entering the 2021 NCAA tournament as the No. 9 seed in the East side of the bracket.

Why would Illinois be a No. 9 seed instead of somewhere higher?

Well, the decision of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn change everything. Just imagine if Illinois could get these two superstars back for one more season. I would assume their No. 9 seed prediction would immediately jump to a top-five seed prediction.

Illinois does have some talent coming in from the class of 2020. Adam Miller and Andre Curbelo will be sensational, but they are just freshmen. Having these two would help us get back to the postseason and probably be a No. 9 seed. Adding Ayo and Kofi to that mix would put us over the top and make us national title contenders.

Next: Projected Illini dream team lineup for 2021-22

The Illini are projected in the NCAA tournament for next season. Hopefully, we can fill out the roster with some of our best players coming back from the NBA Draft. This would be the best-case scenario.