A long-awaited first is a few days away.
Louisville has won twice. Michigan State has won twice. North Carolina has won thrice.
Illinois has NEVER won the NCAA men's basketball championship.
Monday night in St. Louis the long-suffering fans of the Fighting Illini program will taste the sweet flavor of being number one for the first time since they began playing this tournament in 1939 when Oregon beat Ohio State. The highest previous finish in the tournament for a University of Illinois team--3rd Place, in 1951 and 1952. The "Flying Illini" tied for third in 1989 with Duke...because they stopped playing a third place game a few years earlier.
I believe the karma is right. They have the personnel. They have the "every man", highly likeable coach. They have not been a victim of serious injury. They have the game behind them (The Arizona Miracle) that most championship teams need to survive on their way to a title. Most of all, they will practically be playing home games on Saturday and Monday night. The Illini faithful will pack the Edward Jones Dome and give them the 6th man they undoubtedly will need to win.
The time has finally come. That was my prediction before the tournament started....and I'm sticking with it.