Rutgers and Illinois are two of the biggest NCAA Basketball surprises this season. But who’s more likely to make a deep run? We answer that and more in the latest roundtable.
Welcome back to the latest NCAA Basketball roundtable, where some of Busting Brackets’ top contributors answer some burning questions for the week. There were some notable outcomes from this past weekend that has changed the landscape, especially from a Bracketology standpoint. Here are the writers who’re participating in this week’s roundtable:
Adam Childs – @AdamChilds21
Jack Bennett – @Jack_Bennett13
Curtis Wilkerson – @CWilk_Hoops
Michael Walton – @ZenMasterMike
Neil Adler – @DAMNTWIN
1. Who’s more likely to make a deep run in March, Rutgers or Illinois?
Illinois. The Illini have been playing great as of late and Ayo Dosunmu is arguably the top player in the conference right now behind Luka Garza. With the number of weapons they have, if they are able to secure a 5 or 6 seed in March, then look for the Illini to be a bracket buster.
This is a fun question! I’m a tad surprised, and elated, at how well both Rutgers and Illinois are faring so far in the 2019-20 campaign. Each team has struggled in recent years, but the Scarlet Knights and the Fighting Illini find themselves currently at the upper echelon of the Big Ten Conference race, along with Michigan State. I’ll go with Illinois here to make a deeper run in March, and for one reason. Freshman center Kofi Cockburn is having a monster term to date, averaging 14.5 points and 9.4 boards per contest. His skills are legit.
Illinois has the make-up of a team that could make a run into the second weekend at the NCAA Tournament. The Illini have a potent inside/out punch in sensational sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu and phenom freshman big man Kofi Cockburn who are more than capable of leading them to multiple wins in March. Brad Underwood is an experienced coach that has proven he can take less talented teams and win on the big stage. Lastly, when you think about teams who could make a run in the Big Dance one of the key factors to consider is how they perform away from their own gym. Illinois has an impressive road resume that includes wins at Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan.
Illinois is more likely to make a run. They have more go-to scorers then Rutgers does. Cockburn has been a force down low, Frazier has been very good and Dosunmu can take a game over. Plus they play some of the best defense in the country. They can definitely make a second-weekend run.
Once you get to March, it’s all about defense and sustainability on offense. Because of that, I will go with Illinois. They are 35th in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric and have Ayo Dosunmu, who is averaging 19.2 points over his last five games. That combination will take them far in March.