Illinois Basketball: Illini are Trending Toward Last in the Big Ten

As the Illinois basketball season inches closer to a close, it seems almost guaranteed that this program will finish outside of the NCAA Tournament bubble once again.

Not only will Illinois miss the postseason for the fourth straight year under John Groce, but they are also trending toward the bottom of the Big Ten.

The Illini currently sit at 3-8 in conference play.  That is good enough to come in at No. 13 in the Big Ten, one game ahead of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

The rest of the way out Illinois has a schedule that I am not too confident about either.

Illinois plays Northwestern on February 7 and February 21.  They are a better team right now and I would mark both of those up as losses.

Then the Illini play Penn State and Michigan State at home.  Maybe Illinois beats the Nittany Lions but I would chalk the Spartans up as a loss.

Illinois also has Iowa and Nebraska on the road and we all know the record for the Illini in away games this season.

So, heading into the final game of the season at Rutgers, I have Illinois pegged at 4-13 in Big Ten play.

That game against Rutgers could be a contest for last in the Big Ten.  Right now, the Scarlet Knights are 2-9 in conference and I see at least one more win for them heading in.

That means, whoever wins the game on March 4 will avoid finishing No. 14 in conference play this season.  This is what I would call rock bottom for the Illini program.

In the almost five years Groce has coached this basketball program he has failed to finish better than No. 8 in the Big Ten.

Groce’s first three seasons he finished No. 8 or a tie for No. 7, which is essentially No. 8, in conference.  Last year he finished No. 12 in the Big Ten and this season he is potentially trending toward No. 14.

Having a trend like this is bad for the program and one more reason for a coaching change after the season.

Groce will now finish No. 8 or lower in the Big Ten all five years of his coaching at Illinois.  You have to go back to the 1991-92 season to have a total of five finishes at No. 8 or below in conference.

What this mean is Groce has done something in five seasons that it took four head coaches and 21 seasons to do previously.

I believe this is just another stat that shows why there needs to be a change.  Don’t worry Illini fans, I truly believe there will be a change and We Will Win.

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