Illinois basketball statistical comparison to the last 5 NCAA tournament winners

The NCAA tournament is on the horizon, and Illinois has a good team this season. But how do the Illini compare to past champions?
Mar 10, 2024; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33) shoots the
Mar 10, 2024; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33) shoots the / Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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2023-24 Illinois vs 2020-21 Baylor Bears

The 2020-21 Baylor Bears had one of the best teams in recent memory. This program played defense and could score at an incredible rate. They were one of the last dominating basketball teams I could remember.

  • Biggest Statistical Similarity – Scoring

It is hard to find a team that can score at around the same rate as Illinois. This season, we are putting up 83.9 points per game. It is the highest-scoring Illini unit since the early 1990s. That is how special this group has been.

Baylor matched that high-scoring ability on their way to a national title in 2021, though. The Bears averaged 84.4 points per game, and they couldn’t be stopped. There were scoring threats coming from everywhere.

Both Illinois and Baylor had six players average at least 6.0 points per game. They score in different ways, though. Illinois has more of a bulldog mentality and gets to the free throw line. Baylor was a deep-scoring threat that could knock down some big shots.

  • Biggest Statistical Difference – Steals

There were a couple of numbers I could have gone with here, but I landed on steals. Illinois just isn’t a team that is super aggressive on defense.

The Illini are only averaging 4.4 steals per game this season. We rank No. 346 out of 362 teams in DI basketball when it comes to takeaways. Back in 2020-21, Baylor had a great defensive team. They averaged 8.9 steals per game, which ranked No. 8 in the nation.

Illinois isn’t great defensively, and we don’t force a lot of mistakes. We aren’t stealing the ball on the perimeter. Most of the steals come from inside the paint with quick hands.

2023-24 Illinois vs 2020-21 Baylor Statistics

  • Points – Illinois 83.9, Baylor 84.4
  • Points Allowed – Illinois 72.9, Baylor 65.5
  • Rebounds – Illinois 41.4, Baylor 36.5
  • Assists – Illinois 12.8, Baylor 17.0
  • Steals – Illinois 4.4, Baylor 8.9
  • Blocks – Illinois 3.8, Baylor 3.8
  • Turnovers – Illinois 10.9, Baylor 12.4
  • FG% - Illinois 47.1%, Baylor 49.3%
  • 3P% - Illinois 35.0%, Baylor 41.8%
  • FT% - Illinois 74.1%, Baylor 69.7%