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Illinois Basketball: Oh So Sweet

Brad Underwood has now knocked a big chip off of the shoulders of the Illinois Basketball program



Oh So Sweet
Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Oh So Sweet

Brad Underwood has now knocked a big chip off of the shoulders of the Illinois Basketball program. In their first appearance since 2005, the Fighting Illini are dancing their way to the Sweet 16 after a 89 – 63 win over Duquesne. The first time ever for Brad Underwood as a Division 1 head coach. The last time Illinois had this opportunity… the dreaded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in 2021. Cameron Krutwig and the sister Jean brigade took it to the Ayo Dosunmu led Illini to deliver a gut-punching round of 32 loss. However, the script has been flipped in Omaha Nebraska.

Credit: Michael Caterina via USA TODAY Sports

Quick Breakdown

To be frank, Illinois Basketball dominated Duquesne in all major aspects of the game. The defensive effort was high-level, and forced lots of discomfort on the Dukes. Forced turnovers and sloppy possessions by Duquesne were the reward for Illinois efforts. The Illini dominated on the boards, and forced very little second chance opportunities for Keith Dambrot‘s offense. Defense certainly not been a consistent strong suit in 2024 for the Illini, however, Terrance Shannon’s squad made it extremely hard on Dae Dae Grant, and the Dukes offense. On the offensive end, Illinois was HOT. Brad Underwood’s booty ball offense was a thing of beauty vs the Dukes. The offense shot around 60% overall from the floor, as well as 33% from deep. A dominant showing, that will be needed for Illinois in Boston, as they move on to face high motor the Iowa State Cyclones.

Big Numbers and Stats

Coleman Hawkins – 11 Points, 7 rebounds, 3-7 from deep. Needed a big Coleman game, got a big Coleman game. Both ends of the floor, a very solid performance for Hawk.

Terrance Shannon Jr –  30 points, 4 rebounds, 2-5 from deep. What else can you say, he is one of the best player in college basketball.

Marcus Domask – 22 points, 7 Rebounds. 1-2 from deep

Quincy Guerrier – 10 points, 6 rebounds

Dain Dainja – Honorable mention. This dude has been a beast in recent weeks, and a big reason for the postseason success Illinois Basketball is having.

Illinois Basketball’s Last Sweet 16 Appearance

The last time Illinois Basketball found themselves in a position to compete for the elite eight, was in 2005. Bruce Weber’s legendary national championship runner-up team. Of course, a unit consisting of Dee Brown, James Augustine, Deron Williams, Luther Head and Roger Powell. The Illini took down the 12-seeded Milwaukee University Panthers 77-63. Illinois has the chance to make a take yet another massive step forward under the wing of head coach Brad Underwood. Who, has certainly cemented himself has one of the top coaches in College Basketball.

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Kirkland is a go-to source for Illinois athletics news. He is the lead Football analyst at Armchair Illini and has been featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, Yard Barker, Autograph, Newsbreak, CBS Sports and more.