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The Most Dangerous Basketball Team In The Big Ten

Prepare to hear this phrase several more times about the last-place Fighting Illini

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

We’re into February and everyone’s projecting March Madness seeds and Big Ten Tournament scenarios as we start to see the true colors of many of the teams in this year’s NCAA basketball field. So who’s the most dangerous team in the Big Ten?

Is it Michigan State, with Miles Bridges, Jaren Jackson and Cassius Winston forming arguably the most talented Spartans team of the Tom Izzo era? Is it Purdue, with their stifling defense and towering skyscrapers? Is it the surprising Ohio State Buckeyes, led by the emergence of Keita Bates-Diop as a star in the league?

Nope. If you listen to anyone covering college hoops, the most dangerous team in the conference is none other than the 2-10 Illinois Fighting Illini, who just finished being swept by the worst Wisconsin Badgers team in recent memory and who have no players listed as centers on their roster.

Izzo himself called Illinois “the best 0-8 team in the world” after MSU staged a dunk contest in the State Farm Center. If you watch an Illini game, you’ll hear time and time again about, as of Wednesday, they had led in the 2nd half of nine of their twelve losses, and thanks to the futile heroics of Trent Frazier, whose name we might as well start stylizing as “Trent Frazier, In A Losing Effort,” that second half stat is now true of 10 of their 13 losses.

Even on the BTN broadcast, the crew couldn’t help themselves and began talking about how much better this team supposedly is than their record indicates. Immediately AFTER the Fighting Illini essentially lost a 5-on-2 game against Ethan Happ and whoever happens to be camping behind the arc, the BTN studio analysts gushed over the potential for Illinois to pull a big upset as they hammered the same points. To paraphrase, “outside of the game at Wisconsin [which is a terrible team], they’ve been right in every single one of these games!”

Disregarding the fact that nobody’s going to be stoked on a boxer who’s 0-50 lifetime with all 50 losses coming by split decision, I’ve finally figured out what they’re on about regarding Illinois as a dangerous team.

Illinois is a Lego brick on the carpet of the Big Ten’s living room, and when a grown-up team steps on it, they go “OW OW OW OW OW MY FOOT! God I hate dealing with these things, they’re dangerous, they could really hurt someone!”

The Lego brick that is Illinois could in fact inflict such a shock on the bottom of someone’s feet that they recoil, trip and hit their head on the counter, and that explains how they defeated Indiana and Rutgers. But as annoying as that Lego brick is, it’s not going to kill you; just sweep it off the floor.


What Michael Jackson album does Illinois most resemble?

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