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NCAA Tournament Coverage


2005 NCAA TOURNAMENT Coverage Preview Bracket Final Four Predictions Store

By Nick Meyer


March 15th, 2004

NCAA Tournament Scouting Report: Illinois


To make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, an All-America caliber guard is almost a necessity. Illinois has three.


Point Guard Deron Williams is the catalyst, averaging 12.2 ppg and 6.5 assists. He’s the most complete of the three—big, strong, and quick enough to handle the ball, drive into the lane and create contact, or spot up for threes.


Dee Brown is the most explosive and the Illini’s emotional leader. Brown averages 13.4 points a game to with 4.5 assists and a team-high 1.8 steals, while shooting a blistering 50.8 % from the field. He’s so quick he’s been nicknamed “The One-Man Fast Break,” and he’s got NBA three-point range.


Luther Head is often overlooked, but he’s the most athletic and also quite versatile. Often the recipient of a perfect pass from Williams or Brown, especially on the fast break, Head averages a team-high 15.8 ppg.


The trio has been together for three years now, and their chemistry is the driving force behind their success. Illinois is perhaps the best passing team in the nation, averaging 19 assists to 10.9 turnovers a game.


The inside combo of James Augustine and Roger Powell is often overlooked, but the duo has been steady all season long, especially on the defensive end.


Augustine is an athletic, versatile defender at 6’10, 230 pounds. His footwork and help defense are excellent, and he’s adept at avoiding foul trouble. He’s not a 3-point shooter, but is excellent inside the arc (especially facing up), shooting almost 63%.


Powell is a bit of a ‘tweener at only 6’6, but he uses his sculpted 235-lb. frame and good leaping ability to play bigger than his size. He’s almost automatic inside the lane, conjuring up images of ex-Arkansas star Corliss Williamson.




Although the issue has been overblown, lack of inside depth is one that has hindered Illinois

Illinois Links

 at times.  Jack Ingram is rapidly improving as Augustine’s backup, but his offensive game is limited to mostly spot-up shooting.   Both Ingram and the rail-thin Smith can be taken advantage of at times on defense due to lack of quickness.  Big, talented frontlines like UConn’s and North Carolina’s can wear out the Illini.


 Other weaknesses are less pronounced, but could crop up at some point.


Brown, Head, and Williams are good one-on-one players, but they’re much more effective when sharing the ball.


Illinois also has a tendency to rely too much on the three, but their defense is usually good enough to carry them through off-nights shooting the ball.


Summary: With the support of their rabid fans, and a relatively easy bracket, Illinois looks like an excellent bet to get out of the Chicago region. A possible second-round match-up with Texas might be their toughest test until a likely Elite Eight tilt with Oklahoma State.


Prediction: National Championship.



More Big Ten NCAA Tournament Scouting Reports


So you think the Big Ten had a down year?  Most conferences would kill for 5 NCAA Tournament teams, and the #1 seed in the entire field of 65.  Maybe the Big Ten isn't as strong as it has been in recent years, but you'd be foolish to just ignore the damage that a Michigan State or Wisconsin can do.  Nick Meyer presents scouting reports for each Big Ten team that's playing in the post-season, including NIT bound Indiana.


NCAA Tournament

Illinois Scouting Report

Michigan State Scouting Report

Wisconsin Scouting Report

Minnesota Scouting Report

Iowa Hawkeyes Scouting Report


Indiana Scouting Report


Return to the NCAA Tournament Homepage.


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