Bracket Projection: Illinois

The Illini could be Sweet 16-bound if Brandon Paul and Co. connect from deep

Updated: March 21, 2013, 2:46 PM ET
By Bill Doherty | ESPN Insider
Brandon Paul Bradley Leeb/USA TODAY SportsSenior guard Brandon Paul is Illinois' leading scorer for the second consecutive season.

The Illinois Fighting Illini's 2012-13 season under first-year coach John Groce has been a roller-coaster ride. It began with the highest of highs, a 12-0 start to the season. Then came the precipitous drop, a 2-7 start in Big Ten play that drove Groce to ban his players from using Twitter, and then another uptick as the Illini went 6-1 before finishing the season 22-11. It begs the question: Which Illini team will show up in the Big Dance?

ESPN Insider has your answers, as Joe Lunardi has enlisted a team of Bracketologists to compile advanced metrics, key scouting intel and best- and worst-case tournament scenarios for all 68 teams, in order to help you make smart picks in your bracket. Plus, as Lunardi fills out his bracket, he'll give you his prediction on how each team will fare.


Lunardi's Logic

The Illini -- more than Minnesota -- would have been shortchanged if my ".500 or better in conference" rule were in effect. Instead, Illinois is here to make life miserable for Colorado and perhaps Miami. We've seen the Illini at their best and at their worst, and I think we'll see one more instance of each in Austin. Call it a win over the Buffaloes before a double-digit loss to surging Miami.


Best wins: Butler, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Indiana

Worst losses: at Purdue, Northwestern, at Iowa