Illinois Basketball: Illini Shooting Up the RPI Rankings

The Illinois basketball team still has a long way to go to make the NCAA Tournament this season.

But, while some people do not take ESPN’s RPI so serious, I think it is very telling on who will get in and who will be left out come March.

Right now, Illinois sits with an overall RPI of No. 23.  That is actually really good all things considered.

If the tournament were to start today I think the Illini would be in right now as a No. 9 seed taking on a No. 8 seed in the first round.

Something similar happened to this Illini team during the 2010-11 campaign as well.

Illinois finished the non-conference 10-3 and then finished the regular season 19-12.  They made it in as the No. 9 seed and advanced to the second round.

The Illini finished No. 43 in the RPI in 2010-11 and had a strength of schedule of No. 16 in the nation.

So far this season, the Illini are well on their way to hitting that mark and making the NCAA Tournament once again.

With an RPI of No. 23 and a strength of schedule currently sitting at No. 7 in the nation, I don’t see how the Illini can miss the tournament on the path they are going.

Illinois has four losses on the season and three of them are against top 50 RPI programs.  The other is Winthrop who has now fallen below No. 100.

But, Illinois back in 2010-11 also had a bad loss in Illinois-Chicago, so bad losses can happen and teams can still make the postseason.

The Illini will lose in the future but they just have to avoid the long losing streak.  That is what could kill them come tournament time.

Indiana is the next game in Bloomington.  That is a lot to ask of this team to beat the Hoosiers on the road, but I could see it happening.

So, if the Illini lose to Indiana, they then have Michigan and Maryland at home.  Both of these games would need to be wins because that would keep them on track for a tournament berth.

There is no doubt in my mind if Illinois continues on the path they are on right now that we will be watching meaningful basketball come March.

This program isn’t eliminated from contention for the first time in what seems like forever.  I am excited about the future for right now.

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