Indiana v Illinois

Stating the obvious: beating Indiana was season-saving for Illinois


Illinois was in massive trouble heading into Thursday’s game with No. 1 Indiana.

After climbing their way into the top 15 of the national rankings with wins over Butler, Gonzaga and Ohio State, the Illini simply fell off a cliff. They lost eight of 11 games as they seemingly lost the ability to shoot the three, which is a major problem considering their entire system is more or less built around the three-ball.

They don’t defend all that well.

They don’t really have a low post scoring presence.

They have a bunch of guys that like to chuck up threes, and it had gotten to the point that it seemed like Illinois’ confidence was so low those threes would never start going down again.

And then Indiana came to town, Illinois reeled off a 13-2 run to close the game, Cody Zeller had his “Tyler moment“, and all of a sudden, the Illini are right back into the thick of things with a 74-72 upset win over the Hoosiers.

It should really go without saying just how important this win was for the Illini, and not just because the easiest way to jumpstart team-wide confidence is by coming from behind to knock off the No. 1 team in the country. They visit Minnesota on Saturday. They still have road trips to Michigan and Ohio State, as well. Those aren’t going to be easy games to win. And seeing as Illinois already has losses to Purdue and Northwestern, with the latter coming at home, assuming they would take care of the other five Big Ten teams on their schedule was anything but a guarantee.

And it still isn’t, but beating the team’s you’re supposed to beat is easier to do when you’ve not in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

But let’s assume that they do while losing on the road to Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio State. The Illini will be sitting at 8-10, but they’ll have one of the toughest schedules in the country, an RPI that should be somewhere around the low 40’s or high 30’s, and wins over Ohio State, Indiana, Butler and at Gonzaga.

That’s a tournament profile, especially in a season with a weak bubble.

So yeah.

This was a pretty important win.


You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Texas lands commitment from top 100 center

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James Banks announced on Thursday that he has committed to Texas, joining Jacob Young in Shaka Smart’s first recruiting class as the head coach of the Longhorns.

Banks is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-10 center from Georgia, Banks is a still-developing prospect that was recruited more on his potential than his immediate ability.

“James Banks emerged as a good low post prospect this spring and summer,” NBC Recruiting Analyst Scott Phillips said. “With a good set of hands, some offensive potential and a frame that can add weight, Banks is a nice upside grab for Texas.”

He’s probably a few years away from having a major impact in the Big 12, but he may not have that much time to develop. Cameron Ridley, Prince Ibeh and Conner Lamert all graduate after this season, meaning that Banks is going to have to contribute immediately when he sets foot on the Austin campus for the 2016-17 season.

Texas has three commitments in the Class of 2015. Smart convinced Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis to remain committed to the program when he took over for Rick Barnes while he landed a commitment from Tevin Mack, who pledged to Smart when he was at VCU.

Memphis guard could miss season with shoulder injury

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Memphis just cannot catch a break.


It’s to the point where I almost feel bad for Josh Pastner.

Today, reported that Kedren Johnson, a 6-foot-4 point guard that was on track towards being an all-SEC point guard at Vanderbilt, could end up missing the season due to a shoulder injury. If he can handle the pain he can avoid surgery and play with the injury, but at the very least, Johnson is going to be less than his best.

Johnson averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists last season for the Tigers. He sat out 2013-14 after leaving Vanderbilt and entered last season incredibly out of shape. There was hope that he would be able to make a bigger impact this season and help fill the void at the point guard spot.

This news comes on the heels of Memphis finding out that Jaylen Fisher is heading to UNLV. Who’s Jaylen Fisher? Well, he’s a point guard and top 40 recruit from Memphis that was Pastner’s No. 1 recruiting target that opted to leave the city for his college hoops instead of play for the Tigers.

That’s a bad sign, but not quite as bad as Memphis losing star center Austin Nichols — another local kid — to a transfer over the summer. Nichols transferred to Virginia.