Illinois Basketball: The King of Mediocrity Under John Groce

The Illinois basketball team has struggled this season and there really isn’t an end in sight.

With a 13-10 record overall and a 3-7 Big Ten record, the Illini are looking NIT bound, if that. They still need to finish above .500 to be eligible to get into the NIT.

Illinois has eight games remaining to show fans that they still have some fight left in them. Despite the losing, though, I still think this team does have talent.

The previous recruiting classes have been solid and in the top 25 at times. With top 25 talent, why aren’t the Illini in the top 25 as a team? I will get to that in the next few days.

Just looking at the schedule, it is clear that this Illinois basketball team can win games. The games that they are winning are the ones that are chalked up as W’s before the season even started, though.

This Illini team is truly the king of mediocrity.

Some people are confused why the Illini are struggling now in the Big Ten season. They did a decent job in the non-conference with a 10-3 record but are now floundering in conference play.

The answer is pretty simple to this question. Illinois played easier teams in the non-conference, plain and simple.

That 10-3 non-conference record kept the Illini in the race for the postseason, but when you look at each game the biggest win was by far VCU.

Illinois beat the Rams who are now 17-5. VCU has the most wins by a team that Illinois has beaten this season.

That successful run in the non-conference was all smoke and mirrors, though. The victories in the non-conference for Illinois had a combined record of 107-101.

So all the non-conference opponents that the Illini beat had a winning rate of 51.4-percent. In contrast, the teams that Illinois lost to in the non-conference had a record of 54-13. This is an 80.5-percent winning rate.

The reason Illinois started off so well in the non-conference was because the majority of the time they played inferior competition.

While the non-conference record of 10-3 kept many Illini fans hopes alive for a postseason bid after a three-year drought, they realized pretty quick that the conference slate was not going to be the same.

Illinois currently sits with a 3-7 conference record, which isn’t good. They are tied with Ohio State for second to last in the Big Ten and the only reason they are ahead of the Buckeyes is because the Illini beat them.

The Illini have struggled through the Big Ten season so far and the reason is obvious.

In the three Illinois wins they have played Big Ten opponents with a combined record of 40-28. That is a winning rate of 58.8-percent.

Once again, in contrast to the winning, the Illini have played Big Ten teams with a record of 118-39 in the conference losses this season. That is a winning rate of 75.1-percent.

Like I said earlier, the reason for the Illini losing and winning is obvious. The records show that Illinois can beat the teams with average to below average records but they can’t beat teams that are decent at basketball.

In the Illinois wins, the best team was VCU who has 17 victories on the season in a bad conference. In the 10 Illinois losses, only three teams have less than 17 wins.

If Illinois is matched-up with a good team they are going to lose and the opponents records prove that. This team is the king of mediocrity and that has been the stigma with John Groce the last four seasons.

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