Time to dance: Illinois men’s basketball earns No. 4 seed in South Region of NCAA tournament


Cameron Krasucki

The Illinois men’s basketball team huddles before its game against Wisconsin at State Farm Center on Feb. 2.

By Jackson Janes, Staff Writer

Illinois has earned a No. 4 seed in the South Region in the NCAA tournament and will take on No. 13 Chattanooga in the first round in Pittsburgh on Friday.

The Illini, who are making back-to-back appearances in the competition since 2006 and 2017, have had an extended break after crashing out of the Big Ten tournament as the top seed against the No. 9 Indiana Hoosiers on Friday, 65-63.

The Illini finished the regular season with a 22-8 record and went 15-5 in conference play, which earned them a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship with Wisconsin.

Despite not having a fully healthy roster for most of the year, Illinois has picked up notable home wins over Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa, while it also registered road victories over Iowa, which won the Big Ten tournament, Indiana, Michigan State and Michigan.

Led by unanimous First-Team All-Big Ten selection junior center Kofi Cockburn, Illinois are averaging 75.8 points, which ranks third in the conference, while the Jamaica native averages 21.1 points and 10.6 rebounds, both of which are career-best marks.

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Fifth-year senior guard Trent Frazier was named to the All-Big Ten second team, while graduate student guard Alfonso Plummer earned Third-Team All-Big Ten honors in his lone season at Illinois after transferring from Utah.

Illinois is in the same region as No. 1 Arizona, which beat the Illini in Champaign on Dec. 11, No. 2 Villanova, which won the Big East tournament and No. 3 Tennessee, which won the Southeastern Conference tournament.

Nine Big Ten teams earned a berth in the NCAA tournament: 3-seed Wisconsin, 3-seed Purdue, 4-seed Illinois, 5-seed Iowa, 7-seed Michigan State, 7-seed Ohio State, 11-seed Michigan, 11-seed Rutgers and 12-seed Indiana.



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