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 2018-19 Virginia Cavaliers

Virginia rebounded nicely in 2018-19 after they were the first team to ever lose to the No. 16 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Cavaliers, led by a great defense, ended up tearing through the NCAA tournament and won the national championship.

  • Biggest Statistical Similarity – Blocks

There aren’t a lot of similarities to Illinois this season and Virginia back in 2018-19. They are two completely different teams, except for one stat. The one stat that caught my eye that was similar was blocks.

Illinois is averaging 3.8 blocks per game this season, and that national title-winning Virginia team also averaged 3.8 blocks per game.

That Virginia team was similar to Illinois in length. They had some size at the No. 5 spot, and their guards were all pretty big. The Cavaliers displayed multiple backcourt players of at least 6-foot-6, which is what Illinois is putting out on the court. This size helps defend the basket.

  • Biggest Statistical Difference – Points Allowed

This is the big difference between Illinois this season and Virginia back in 2018-19. The Cavaliers were an insanely good team on the defensive end of the court.

Illinois’ defense has been laughable at times this season. We have allowed teams to score an average of 72.9 points per game, and that number has skyrocketed in the past month or so. There was a stretch where the Illini allowed at least 80 points in seven out of eight games.

When Virginia won the national title in 2019, they had the best defense in the nation. The Cavaliers allowed 56.1 points per game in their run to the championship. This included allowing over 62 points just two times in the NCAA tournament, and both of those games went to overtime.

2023-24 Illinois vs 2018-19 Virginia Statistics

  • Points – Illinois 83.9, Virginia 71.8
  • Points Allowed – Illinois 72.9, Virginia 56.1
  • Rebounds – Illinois 41.4, Virginia 34.6
  • Assists – Illinois 12.8, Virginia 14.5
  • Steals – Illinois 4.4, Virginia 5.6
  • Blocks – Illinois 3.8, Virginia 3.8
  • Turnovers – Illinois 10.9, Virginia 9.0
  • FG% - Illinois 47.1%, Virginia 47.8%
  • 3P% - Illinois 35.0%, Virginia 40.9%
  • FT% - Illinois 74.1%, Virginia 74.6%