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Beat writer Jeff Huth will answer your questions about women's basketball or Illinois volleyball. Just ask him. He's chatting at 11 a.m. Friday but throw stuff his way any time.
Welcome to our weekly chat on Illini women's basketball (and volleyball, too). We'll get started in a few minutes. Convincing win for Illinois last night at Northwestern (by 18 points). Next up is a visit by Michigan State at 3 p.m. Sunday for the annual Pack The Hall promotion.
Say Illinois finishes just over .500 in the Big Ten. Do they make the NCAA tournament? Does the committee look past pre-Godbold early bad losses (Bradley, ISU) and grade the team post-Godbold -- beat Georgia, finished upper division in conference?
I have to believe that Illinois would be in strong position to get into the tournament field if it does as you describe in Big Ten play. They did have some bad early losses, but they've clearly snapped out of that with the win against then-No. 6 Georgia and a one-point overtime loss to then-No. 14 Purdue.
Entering the week, the Illini were No. 72 in the NCAA's RPI rankings -- which the tournament selection committee relies upon in its decisions -- and that ranking should go up due to the strength of the Big Ten. If the Illini can continue to pick off a few more ranked teams, the RPI would jump even further.
The selection committee typically puts more weight on a team's performance down the stretch, and that bodes well for an Illinois team on the rise, with five wins in their last seven games.
GodBold certainly has been a key addition and a big factor since getting back on the court four games ago. This is a much better team with her, and her presence in the starting lineup also improves the depth on what has been a pretty thing bench.
I've thought all along that Illinois' postseason prospects -- whether NCAA or WNIT -- would hinge on how it did in the conference. So far, so good.
Any thought about playing the games in Huff for a more roudy atmosphere? Hopefully they keep winning and the crowd won't fit! I have a feeling the fans will get behind the women as the sucess grows. We got the right coach.
Jim From Mis-ery:
This is a question my predecessor in this beat was asked a lot, and his response made sense to me. Putting the game at Huff would send the wrong message about Illini women's basketball. The best basketball facility on campus by far is the Assembly Hall. By playing the game at Huff, You'd be sending the message that the women's program doesn't rate a facility of that caliber.
If you are a recruit, which would you be more impressed with: Assembly Hall or Huff Hall?
For the time being, the atmosphere at Huff might be superior to the current situation at the Assembly Hall. The hope of AD Mike Thomas is that Matt Bollant can have the kind of success that will draw fans to the Hall in numbers that create a great atmosphere there, too.
Sunday's Pack the Hall promotion is worth paying attention to for that reason. The team currently is playing very well. With free admission, will fans who haven't been to a UI women's game for years -- or ever -- be curious enough to check them out? And, if they do, will they like what they see enough to come back again and again?
Looks like we've run out of questions so we'll wrap up the chat now. Thanks for participating and talk to you next week.
-- Jeff Huth