Illini Playing Boston In NIT Wednesday
By Rob McColley
The Illini men's basketball team has made the posteason, accepting an invitation to play Boston University in the NIT Wednesday night in Boston.
The Terriers were the regular season champions in the Patriot League, finishing 24-and-10 overall. They earned an automatic bid to the N-I-T when Manhattan won the Patriot League tournament.
Illinois coach John Groce said Boston is a high octane team.
"18 of their 33 games, they've scored 70 or more points," he said. "They've been in the 80's multiple times, they've been in the 90's multiples times, they're a team that relies heavily on the 3-point shot. Close to 40-percent of their attempts are from 3 (point range.) They've got a point guard in (Maurice) Watson that's No. 2 in the nation in the assist rate. He has 236 assists and 98 turnovers. That's probably the reason they're so explosive offensively."
The Illini are the two seed in a quadrant featuring top seed Saint John's of Queens, New York.
Boston is the seven seed. Normally, the higher seed would host the game, but State Farm Center renovations preclude any post-season games in Champaign this year.
The winner of the Illinois-Boston U. game will travel south to face the winner of the Clemson/Georgia State game.
That second round game won't be scheduled until Tuesday night at the earliest, and could take place any time between Friday the 21st and Monday the 24th, according to Illinois Sports Information Director Derrick Burson.
The Illinois-Boston game tips at 6 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN 2.