Before the 68-team bracket is unveiled on March 14, college basketball writer Scott Richey will weigh in on his favorite sport. Today’s topic: A look at some of the best former Illini in the NCAA tournament (which leans heavily to the 2004-05 squad).
Only Luther Head played more NCAA tournament games with 14 to Brown’s 13. It’s Brown, however, who stands as Illinois’ all-time tourney scoring leader with 179 points. Four of the top five on that list were all on the 2004-05 team, with Roger Powell in seventh.
No former Illini has more rebounds in the NCAA tournament since 1963 than Augustine’s 102, which is 28 more than the next closest player on the list (Brian Cook). It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Augustine also has the most double-doubles in tourney play with three.
Not only does Williams hold the Illinois record for most NCAA tournament career assists (78), but he’s also the Illini’s single-game scoring leader with a 31-point effort against Cincinnati in the 2004 tournament. That pushed him past Frank Williams’ 30-pointer against Kansas in 2001.
Bill Burwell, Dave Downey and Skip Thoren
The Illinois trio each recorded a double-double in a 70-67 first-round win against Bowling Green on March 15, 1963. Burwell led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds, Downey put up 20 and 12 and Thoren had 10 and 12.
Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is email@example.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).