Bracket expert: Illini are in

Bracket expert: Illini are in

Sheldon Jacobson will run the numbers again.

And again in the coming hours and days.

When University of Illinois computer science professor Sheldon Jacobson, who helps oversee a website called Bracket Odds that looks at the projected NCAA tournament field of 68 teams from a purely analytical standpoint, punched in the numbers on Thursday morning, it came up with a favorable result for the Illini.

"Illinois is probably closer on the right side of the bubble than I think people are giving them credit for," Jacobson said. "I would say yes, that they're in."

Much can change, though, especially if Illinois loses on Saturday at Rutgers.

"They have to beat Rutgers because that would be a bad loss, and they can't afford a bad loss," Jacobson said. "Plus, a lot will depend on the mid-major tournaments and how those shake out."

But as of Thursday morning, hours after Illinois completed a thrilling 73-70 win against Michigan State on Wednesday night at State Farm Center, Jacobson has the Illini among the 68 teams in the NCAA tournament, with Illini garnering a No. 11 seed and playing in Dayton as one of the four play-in games.

Teams to watch out for that, if they go on runs during their respective conference tournaments, may dampen those NCAA tournament hopes for the Illini, according to Jacobson?

Wake Forest, Rhode Island, Seton Hall and Vanderbilt, among others.

When it comes to the Big Ten, Jacobson said he groups Illinois in with Indiana, Iowa and Ohio State as teams who still have a chance to reach the NCAA tournament, dependent on how they fare next week in Washington, D.C., at the Big Ten tournament.

"I think only one of the four of them is going to get in," Jacobson said. "It may come down to Ohio State and Illinois and if they play each other in the Big Ten tournament, the winner of that game could very well be the team that gets in."


Bubble watch
Illinois still needs to win at Rutgers on Saturday and possibly one or two games at the Big Ten tournament to feel better about its chances come Selection Sunday. These are five bubble teams to keep an eye on, according to UI computer science professor and expert bracketologist Sheldon Jacobson:

Rhode Island (20-9)
Next game:
Coach Dan Hurley, Bobby’s younger brother, and the Rams host Davidson at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Good wins: Cincinnati, VCU

Bad losses: Fordham, La Salle

Jacobson’s take: “They’re the only mid-major team on the bubble that I see that has a fighting chance to get an at-large bid, and one that is still in the conversation.”

California (19-9, 10-6 Pac-12)
Next game:
Cuonzo Martin’s Bears — who played a late Thursday night game at Utah — are back in action at 1 p.m. Saturday at Colorado.

Good wins: Southern California

Bad losses: Stanford, San Diego State

Jacobson’s take: “I haven’t had Cal in for weeks. There’s nothing to convince me that Cal should be in. They have just such a weak set of numbers.”

Wake Forest (17-12, 8-9 ACC)
Next game:
Danny Manning and his bunch of Demon Deacons play at Virginia Tech at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Good wins: Louisville, Miami

Bad losses: Twice to Clemson

Jacobson’s take: “Wake Forest has great numbers, but no impressive wins. If they went out in the first round of the ACC tournament, that would help Illinois out.”

Seton Hall (19-10, 9-8 Big East)
Next game:
Kevin Willard and his Pirates will try to record an upset at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at 13th-ranked Butler.

Good wins: Creighton, South Carolina

Bad losses: St. John’s, Stanford

Jacobson’s take: “Seton Hall is another team that’s been faltering lately. If they make a run and get to the semifinals of the Big East tournament, that could pose some problems for Illinois.”

Vanderbilt (16-14, 9-8 SEC)
Next game:
Bryce Drew and his Commodores host 12th-ranked Florida at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Good wins: Florida, South Carolina

Bad losses: Missouri, Tennessee

Jacobson’s take: “If they make a run in the SEC tournament, there’s a chance they could sneak in based on their nonconference strength of schedule.”

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Wiseguy1130 wrote on March 02, 2017 at 11:03 am

Don't think there's any way they take more than 7 from B1G. Still a nice win and if Michigan happens to choke again, who knows?

PortlandIllini wrote on March 02, 2017 at 3:03 pm

No, No, No, Nope.

The Ilini are NOT in the tournament at this point.  They probably need two more wins just to be 'on the bubble'  and even then they have to pray for no upsets in conference tournaments .

illinifaningeorgia wrote on March 02, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Mid-majors should be of little concern.  The vast majority of those leagues are one-bid conferences.  If any team other than than the regular season champion wins their tourney, so what?  They still only get the one bid.  Happens in the Horizon League most years.

To have  a chance, I think Illinois must win vs. Rutgers and then 2 more wins in the B1G Tournament.



Wiseguy1130 wrote on March 03, 2017 at 11:03 am

Excellent comments guys.

Oh no! I think I'm coming down with Tate fever!!

Although it's always tough to defeat a team three teams in a season. I started thinking:

Ok, they win against Iowa, would they have a chance against Purdue? If they're hitting threes and can make the late game free throws, maybe...

I blame that kind of thinking on being a Cubs and Bears fan in the '60s and listening to Jack Brickhouse.

My brother and I used to joke around and pretend we were Jack, and say things like "Well, if the Bears could somehow score 4 touchdowns, they could be right back in this one". : )

DaisyJ wrote on March 02, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Sorry to break the bad news but the Illini are not dancing in the NCAA's , this year or even next year. Groce finally realized but a little late that Lucas is the best point guard, that Black AND Hill should take 60 % of the shots. This has been all on the bad hire of Groce.

Moonpie wrote on March 03, 2017 at 9:03 am

Cowpie sez beware of ancient cheerleaders and don't count chickens until they hatch.

But, I hope they get in -- for the sake of players and not The Grimacer. And not for Ancient Tate, whose whole identity is wrapped up in manufacturing blind Illini patriotism.