Busting Brackets

10 teams vulnerable to be upset in the first round of March Madness

There is an elite tier of college basketball this season, but it's an exclusive club. If your team is on the outside of that five or six-team group, then they could be vulnerable to a Round of 64 exit in the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari
Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari / Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY
6 of 10

Illinois. . . 5. . 481. 23-8 (14-6). . . Net: 16 Projected Seed: 4

The Fighting Illini escaped a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal matchup with Ohio State, but they needed a 27-13 foul discrepancy to beat the conference’s No. 10 seed 77-74. Brad Underwood’s group has two crucial weaknesses heading into March and it’ll leave them vulnerable in the early rounds. 

For me, March is about point guard. When everything turns to well, Madness, a veteran point guard is the one who can settle the game down. Illinois doesn’t just not have a veteran point guard, the Illini don’t have a point guard at all. Forward Marcus Domask leads the team with 3.5 assists a game and Coleman Hawkins is another oversized, but capable, facilitator. 

The lack of a point guard hasn’t hurt the offense which ranks 12th in scoring and ninth in efficiency, but it makes their offense a bit clunkier in crunch time. The other weakness is the more damning of the two. Illinois is 114th in defensive efficiency, so they’re hard to trust on that end of the floor. 

Brad Underwood has taken Illinois to the tournament in each of the past three years, but he’s yet to advance past the first weekend. I don’t see how this team is any different.