Illinois a No. 9 seed in CBT's projected bracket

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Illinois a No. 9 seed in CBT's projected bracket

John Groce's Illinois squad has had a rough going in January, falling to 1-4 in conference before rebounding Tuesday with a 71-51 win over Nebraska. The recent stretch -- which has included losses in five of eight games -- has knocked the Illini out of the AP Top 25, and NBC Sports' College Basketball Talk recently bumped Groce's all the way down to a nine-seed in their most recent projected bracket.
They are one of eight Big Ten teams projected to make the NCAA Tournament by CBT's Dave Ommen, joining Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa in the bracket.
The current bracket has the Illini squaring off against No. 8 Georgetown in the West region, with a date against No. 1 Arizona (or No. 16 Northeastern, the projected winner of the Colonial Conference) awaiting in the third round.
Michigan is the Big Ten's lone No. 1 seed in the projected bracket, while two-seeded Indiana, three-seeded Minnesota and four-seeded Michigan State round out the top 16 spots.
Fifth-seeded Ohio State, seventh-seeded Wisconsin and eleventh-seeded Iowa round out the eight bids, which are the most of any league in the projected bracket.
Nothing will get easier for Groce and the Illini, who begin a five-game stretch Sunday that includes Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota. Four of those five teams are ranked in the top 13, and the fifth -- Wisconsin -- is currently ranked 27th after knocking off then-No. 2 Indiana last week.

Wednesday on CSN: Illinois State and Loyola host in Valley doubleheader

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Wednesday on CSN: Illinois State and Loyola host in Valley doubleheader

The Missouri Valley Conference returns to CSN with live college hoops action on Wednesday night.

Looking to make a push for the NCAA tournament, Illinois State hosts Southern Illinois at 6 p.m. live on CSN. Then at 7 p.m. on CSN+, Loyola will host Drake in another Valley contest.

The Redbirds (23-5, 15-1) have won four straight games as they are co-leaders of the conference with Wichita State. Senior Deontae Hawkins leads Illinois State in scoring at 14.6 points per game.

Southern Illinois (15-14, 8-8) won on the road at Indiana State to snap a three-game losing streak as they're hoping for a better result after losing to Illinois State at home by seven earlier this season. Senior point guard Mike Rodriguez leads the Salukis in points and assists at 13.0 points and 4.1 assists per game.

In the second game, Loyola is trying to make a move up the conference standings as they host Drake.

The Ramblers (17-12, 7-9) lost to the Bulldogs on the road earlier this season as they enter this one having lost five of six games. Loyola is led by senior Milton Doyle as he leads the Ramblers in points and assists at 15.6 points and 4.3 assists per contest. 

Drake (7-21, 5-11) has lost seven straight games but they did get the best of the Ramblers in that 102-98 thriller earlier this season. The Bulldogs do have a talented junior in Reed Timmer as he's putting up 15.6 points per game.

Both of these games are important for Missouri Valley Conference tournament seeding purposes as Arch Madness begins on Thursday, March 2.

You can catch Thursday and Friday's MVC Tournament action live on CSN on March 2 and March 3.

Tuesday on CSN+: UIC hosts Green Bay

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Tuesday on CSN+: UIC hosts Green Bay

College hoops returns to CSN on Tuesday with some local action as UIC hosts Green Bay. You can watch this Horizon League matchup live on CSN+ at 7 p.m.

The Flames (14-14, 7-8) are coming off of a loss to Oakland as they try to make one more push up the conference standings. Junior big man Tai Odiase leads UIC at 11.3 points per game as the former Homewood-Flossmoor product is also a solid rim protector.

Green Bay (16-11, 10-5) is still fighting for one of the conference's top spots as they're coming off of a win over Milwaukee. The Phoenix already own a four-point win over UIC this season at home in a close game.

Senior guard Charles Cooper is averaging 13.0 points per game as he's been one of the better guards in the conference this season.