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 2017-18 Villanova Wildcats

That Villanova team in 2017-18 was star-studded. They had some great talent and were led by a Chicago native and a player who ended up picking the Wildcats over Illinois, Jalen Brunson. It was hard to see them win the national championship with a player we were so close to landing.

  • Biggest Statistical Similarity – Turnovers

Surprisingly, Illinois has been an efficient team when it comes to coughing the ball up this season. We usually have a high number of turnovers per game in a season, but this year, we are only averaging 10.9 turnovers per game. That is a nice drop from the 12.9 turnovers per game we averaged last season.

Villanova was very similar in the turnover department when they went on their national championship run. They took care of the ball, as the Wildcats finished that season with just 10.4 turnovers per game.

I think experience plays a big role in turnovers. When you have a veteran team, usually the turnovers are down. Villanova was laced with upperclassmen on that 2017-18 squad. Jalen Brunson, Mikel Bridges, and Donte DiVincenzo were all juniors on that team.

Similarly, Illinois has a bunch of veteran players. We have four main players who have played at least five years of college basketball, and then we have someone like Coleman Hawkins who is in year four. The understanding of taking care of the basketball is there for the Illini.

  • Biggest Statistical Difference – 3-Point Shooting

There are a lot of similar numbers between Illinois this season and the 2017-18 Villanova team. The biggest statistical difference that I can see is three-point shooting.

Illinois has improved the three-point shooting this season. We only shot 30.9% from beyond the three-point arc last year, and that number has now climbed to 35.0% this season. That is a big jump and one of the reasons we won 23 games.

While it is a nice jump, the Villanova squad that won the national title was shooting 40.1% from three-point range. They were incredible at shooting from three-point range, and it wasn’t just one player who was doing all of the work.

Villanova’s top four scorers, Brunson, Bridges, DiVincenzo, and Omari Spellman, all shot at least 40.0% from three-point range. That is incredible. They were sharpshooters, and it helped them in the NCAA tournament knock off some big-time teams.

2023-24 Illinois vs 2017-18 Villanova Statistics

  • Points – Illinois 83.9, Villanova 87.1
  • Points Allowed – Illinois 72.9, Villanova 70.2
  • Rebounds – Illinois 41.4, Villanova 35.6
  • Assists – Illinois 12.8, Villanova 16.7
  • Steals – Illinois 4.4, Villanova 6.7
  • Blocks – Illinois 3.8, Villanova 4.0
  • Turnovers – Illinois 10.9, Villanova 10.4
  • FG% - Illinois 47.1%, Villanova 50.4%
  • 3P% - Illinois 35.0%, Villanova 40.1%
  • FT% - Illinois 74.1%, Villanova 77.1%

5 huge observations from the Illinois basketball win over Iowa. 5 huge observations from the Illinois basketball win over Iowa. dark. Next