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2011 Big Ten Tournament Bracket Preview: Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois Fighting Illini; Final Record: 19-12 (9-9); #5 Seed in Big Ten

Illinois finds itself in a fairly favorable position entering the Big Ten tournament. Most esteemed bracketologists have Illinois safely notched as a #9 seed in the NCAA tournament and the Illini don't really have any opportunity to fall from that spot. 

Illinois' resumé is impressive enough, with several quality wins and very few so-called "bad losses." Furthermore, Illinois draws a very good matchup in the first round of the Big Ten tournament in the Michigan Wolverines. That is not to say that it will be an easy game for Illinois, but rather, a loss to Michigan would be considered acceptable by the tournament committee. There is no shame in losing to a Michigan team that recently took down Michigan St. Spartans to find themselves also firmly in the NCAA tournament conversation. 

The Illini have experienced a very up and down season thus far in 2011, spending a good portion of it ranked within the top 25. Illinois reached their peak while ranked at 14th in the nation, before losing an inexcusable game to the Ill.-Chicago Flames at home. Regardless, Illinois seems poised to make an NCAA tournament appearance after narrowly missing out last year and settling for an NIT bid. Illinois is led by senior guard, Demetri McCamey, who contributes his veteran leadership to go along with 15 points per game each and every night. 

Illinois faces #4 seeded Michigan in Indianapolis on Friday, March 11th at 2:00 PM ET.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.