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


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.

Preview: Eastern Illinois, Southern llinois in action today on CSN


Preview: Eastern Illinois, Southern llinois in action today on CSN

College basketball is back on CSN on Saturday as two local teams will be featured in live conference matchups.

In the first matchup at 11 a.m., Eastern Illinois will host Austin Peay in an Ohio Valley Conference clash on CSN+ while the second matchup has Evansville hosting Southern Illinois in a Missouri Valley Conference game at 1 p.m. on CSN.

Eastern Illinois (9-8, 1-3) is coming off of a conference loss to Murray State. Junior guard Montell Goodwin leads the charge for the Panthers as he's averaging 14.8 points per game on the season. Austin Peay (5-13, 1-3) just earned a tight win over SIU-Edwardsville to help end an 11-game losing streak. Junior Josh Robinson is having a strong season despite the losing as he's averaging 21.2 points per game for the Governors.

The second game will be on the main CSN at 1 p.m. as Southern Illinois (10-8, 3-2) tries to bounce back from a loss to Bradley. The Salukis are led by sophomore guard Armon Fletcher as the Edwardsville product leads the team at 13.7 points per game.

Evansville (10-8, 1-4) is coming off of three consecutive losses as the Purple Aces are trying to figure things out at home. Senior Jaylon Brown has been one of the Valley's premier scorers this season as he's putting up 20.9 points per contest.

MVC basketball doubleheader on CSN


MVC basketball doubleheader on CSN

Missouri Valley Conference basketball is back on CSN on Wednesday as a doubleheader begins at 6 p.m.

In the first game, Loyola will travel to Wichita State to face the Shockers in a 6 p.m. tip while the second game features Northern Iowa traveling to Bradley in a game that tips at 8 p.m.

Loyola (12-5, 2-2) has won two straight games as Chicago products Milton Doyle (Marshall) and Donte Ingram (Simeon) are both playing well. Doyle barely missed a triple-double in a win over Northern Iowa and followed that up with a career-high 35 points in a win over Bradley. Ingram has returned from a knee injury to give the Ramblers a boost as he had 25 in the win over Northern Iowa.

Wichita State (14-3, 4-0) has won five straight as they once again look like one of the Valley's best teams. Junior forward Darral Willis Jr. leads the Shockers in scoring at 12.1 points per game while sophomore Markis McDuffie is putting up 11.8 points per game. 

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The second game of the doubleheader features Northern Iowa taking on Bradley. The Panthers (5-10, 0-4) have dropped five straight games as they're struggling to find help for senior guard Jeremy Morgan.

Bradley (7-10, 2-2) is coming off of a home loss to Loyola but they've had a solid bounceback season in head coach Brian Wardle's second year. The Braves only won five games all of last season as the roster has been revamped for this season.

Freshman guard Darrell Brown paces the Bradley offense at 12.2 points per game while junior forward JoJo McGlaston is putting up 9.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.