Illinois 2007 NCAA Tournament Capsule
Illinois Fighting Illini - Big Ten (23-11, 9-7)
Seed: #12 - West Region
Big Wins: 11/25 vs Bradley (75-71), 1/30 Michigan State (57-50), 3/9 vs Indiana (58-54)
Bad Losses: 12/29 at Xavier (59-65), 1/3 at Michigan (61-71), 3/3 at Iowa (53-60)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2006, Second Round loss to Washington
Coach: Bruce Weber (10-5 in 5 NCAA appearances)
Probable Illinois Starters:
Chester Frazier, Sophomore, Guard, 7.4 ppg, 4.4 apg, 4.5 rpg
Rich McBride, Senior, Guard, 9.5 ppg, 2.3 apg
Brian Randle, Junior, Forward, 7.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Warren Carter, Senior, Forward, 13.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Shaun Pruitt, Junior, Center, 11.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg
Key Roleplayers for Illinois:
Calvin Brock, Sophomore, Guard, 5.1 ppg, 1.6 apg, 3.6 rpg
Trent Meacham, Sophomore, Guard, 5.0 ppg, 1.8 apg
Marcus Arnold, Senior, Forward, 2.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
Shaun Pruitt has quietly put together a great season. The 6-10 junior averages 11.6 points and a team high 7.6 rebounds per contest. After waiting in the wings, Pruitt has emerged as a major force under the basket and he will work hard on the glass on both ends of the floor.
Power forward Warren Carter has had a breakout season of his own and leads the team with 13.7 points per outing. Carter can step outside and hit the outside jumper as well, but he tends to move a little out of his range to put up some unnecessary three’s. Small forward Brian Randle was supposed to be the big scorer for the Illini, but battling injuries much of the season has hindered his consistency.
Why Illinois Can Disappoint:
If you would have asked an Illini where the strength was before the season started, they would have said the perimeter. However, over the course of the season, the big guys have emerged. Unfortunately, nobody has told that to the guards. The frontcourt trio shoots over 48% from the floor,while the team as a whole shoots 43%.The poor perimeter shooting numbers are because of bad shot selection by guards like Rich McBride, Chester Frazier and Trent Meacham. The backcourt depth took a major blow when Jamar Smith, along with center Brian Carlwell, were involved in a car accident. Smith, who averaged 8.1 points per game, will not return for the tournament. Carlwell, who averaged only 7.0 minutes per game, may be available for the tournament.
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Who To Watch:
While the guards may not look inside enough, they do have the ability to take over a game and it is easy to understand why the keep on chucking up the long ball. That is especially true for McBride. The senior takes nearly eight three-pointers per game and makes just 2.6 of those attempts, yet he has the ability to get hot and hit five or six in a game. Frazier has become a quality Big Ten caliber point guard and can do enough scoring to keep the defense honest. The 6-2 sophomore is a pesky defender and has the tough job of keeping the team playing together on the court during times of adversity.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 64.5 (254th in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 57.1 (6, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.2 (209, 10)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.3 (28, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 62.6 (308, 11)
Rebound Margin: 4.9 (33, 3)
Assists Per Game: 14.0 (122, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.8 (108, 6)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Second Round loss to Southern Illinois
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