Illinois was unranked in the preseason and projected to be a mid-tier Big Ten team. So it came as something of a surprise when the Illini raced out to an undefeated start, capped off by a big win over Gonzaga.
"There are how many undefeated teams in the country now?" Illinois' head coach asked after his Illini had defeated the Bulldogs. "Somebody's got to notice."
Of course, the coach who made those comments wasn't John Groce. It was Bruce Weber. In 2011.
This season the Illinois Fighting Illini were once again unranked in the preseason (and did not receive a single vote in the AP poll) and projected to be a mid-tier Big Ten team. So it has come as something of a surprise that Groce's team has jumped out to a 12-0 start, capped off by a big 85-74 win over Gonzaga in Spokane.