Illinois vs. Augustana
TV: None (BTN+ streaming)
Brad Underwood has ties to Augustana coach Grey Giovanine. The all-time wins leader at Augustana recruited Underwood to join his staff while the Illini coach was working the junior college circuit, and he also scrimmaged with the Western Illinois teams Underwood coached. Certainly that had something to do with Illinois’s decision to bring the D-III school to Champaign for a game.
Another (large) factor probably was likely the fact that Illinois should blow the Vikings out of the arena.
That sounds like a lot of shade to throw at Augustana — who are ranked #2 in D-III, have been to the Elite 8 each of the last 3 seasons, and have posted an 80-16 record over that span -- and it is, but it’s also the truth. Illinois is quite literally multiple levels of basketball better than Augustana, so while the Vikings have been successful and may play a decent game in Champaign, the Illini have no business losing this game.
One thing to look for in this contest is Illinois maybe folding in some new wrinkles. Underwood hinted that he’d like to see more full-court press, to make opponents have to work for each second of their possession. Likewise, it seems like Mark Alstork could be asked to do different things to get his offensive rhythm going. That is, of course, assuming you can watch this game. The second in a string of 3 games on BTN+, the game is televised for streaming-only subscribers. So good luck watching the game.
Photo by Mike Pauza