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The Illini’s Most Reliable Team

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Illinois Women's Basketball
Oct 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, US; Illinois women s head coach Shauna Green speaks to the media during the Big Ten media days at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

 The Illini’s most reliable and consistent team this year has been the Women’s basketball program.

Throughout this 2022-23 year, Illinois Men’s football and basketball have shown that they are relevant programs in the Big Ten. Bret Bielema and the Football program clinched their first winning season in a long time, and made a well-known bowl game. Despite a putrid decade of seasons from Lovie Smith and Tim Beckman, Bret Bielema showed that the Illini are ahead of schedule. Bielema has proven to be an outstanding CEO and has ushered a level of competence into Champaign that honestly has not been available.

Brad Underwood and the men’s Basketball team are also in the mix for the top spots of the Big Ten once again. This will be Coach Underwood’s fourth straight solid season, and if the trend continues, another bid to the NCAA tournament. Despite rolling out a young team, Illinis has picked off top-10 teams in UCLA and Texas. They recently slipped up, however completed an 18 point comeback against top 25 ranked Northwestern. Additionally, Underwood will hopefully return all of his talented freshmen and bring in some important pieces.

Both coaches have ushered in a significant level of competence.

However, there just seems to be a level of consistency desired.

Despite Bielema’s outstanding season, Illinois fumbled the opportunity to win 10 games and own the conference. They came out unbelievably flat in their two games against Michigan State and Purdue which could have allowed them to win the Big Ten West. Additionally, they blew an early season game to a mediocre Indiana squad. Illinois Football had a great season, but they left a lot on the table. Now they have to repeat this success without their QB, star running back, and star defensive players. Though they may be primed for another successful season, they blew a big opportunity to further the progress they have already made as a program.

Underwood’s squad has been the definition of inconsistent this year. After each of their marquee wins, they come out to lose their next games. In all these instances, they come out flat and without any grit. Despite outstanding highs, the lows and frustrating inconsistencies have started to make passionate fans rather apathetic and guarded. They simply cannot seem to put two straight games of 40 minute efforts together. Even in their wins, they always end up having insane offensive droughts and inexcusable defensive lapses. Most recently, they shot themselves in the foot by losing to a terrible Ohio State team. A chance to clinch another 20 win season early was wasted by a sleepy and amateur performance on Sunday Morning.

In comes Shauna Green and the ladies of the Illini Women’s Basketball team.

Look, no one expected the Women’s basketball team to be where they are right now. After two very turbulent coaching regimes, there was an expected uphill battle ahead. However, Shauna Green and her squad just seem to keep winning and being that light of hope during the times when the men’s team has flashed their inconsistencies. Green’s squad finished inside the AP top 25 with a 21-8 final record. Their 11-7 in conference play lands them into the 6th seed in the Big Ten Tournament. According to the UI website, this is their best seeding since 2013.

Green and women’s team will resume their play on Thursday night against the winner of Rutgers and Northwestern. This is an amazing turnaround for the program that owned the last place seed just one year ago. It seems like forever ago when the Women’s basketball team was playing meaningful games in March, however Green and her staff have brought that back in year one. Though a small sample size, Green has appeared to join the arena of competent Illini coaches including Bielema and Brad Underwood.

Though, we can all agree that the University of Illinois has it better this year than arguably at any point the last 10 years, the inconsistencies and missed opportunities can be an absolute buzzkill. However, having a security blanket like the Women’s’ basketball team has been a great addition to the Illini fandom.

Alex is the Owner of Armchairillini.com, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is a Resident Physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Northwestern Medicine and has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS sports and more.

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