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Introducing the Greatest Illini Men’s Basketball Player Ever Tournament

It’s our March Madness.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Well, Illinois missed another NCAA Tournament, extending its streak to five straight years without a bid.

But, here at The Champaign Room, we still have March Madness fever, and we’re not going to let a lack of the NCAA Tournament hold us down, which is why we’re introducing the Greatest Illini Men’s Basketball Player Ever bracket.

Three of our staff writers — Tristen Kissack, Matt O’Neall and Michael Berns — as well as myself, Stephen Cohn, tallied up 48 names a piece, ordered 1-48. If a player was ranked No. 1, they earned 32 points. If a player was ranked No. 33, they earned 0 points. If a player was ranked No. 48, they earned -16 points. Then we tabulated the top 32 players in terms of points, seeded them and bracketed them into matchups.

Below is the bracket, which we pre-released on our Twitter (@Champaign_Room) and Facebook pages on Sunday night.

The tournament’s top four seeds, in order, are Deon Thomas, Dee Brown, Kiwane Garris and Deron Williams, and each region of eight teams will be named accordingly.

Voting will be done by YOU, the fans, over the next month via polls inside of articles on our website. The polls will be open for one day, and the player with the most votes will move on to the next round.

Here is the tournament’s schedule, which will conclude the same day as the National Championship.

  • Monday, March 12: Deon Thomas Region Round of 32
  • Wednesday, March 14: Deron Williams Region Round of 32
  • Friday, March 16: Dee Brown Region Round of 32
  • Monday, March 19: Kiwane Garris Region Round of 32
  • Thursday, March 22: Thomas/Williams Regions Sweet 16
  • Monday, March 26: Brown/Garris Regions Sweet 16
  • Wednesday, March 28: Elite Eight
  • Friday, March 30: Final Four
  • Monday, April 2: Championship


Like all good brackets, our tournament had a handful of snubs. Here are all of the names that earned honorable mentions:

  • Skip Thoren
  • Gene Vance
  • Jeff Dawson
  • Doug Altenberger
  • Leron Black
  • Mark Smith
  • Marcus Griffin
  • Lowell Hamilton
  • Derek Holcomb
  • Meyers Leonard
  • DJ Richardson
  • Bill Burwell
  • Don Ohl
  • Mannie Jackson
  • George Bon Salle
  • Stephen Bardo
  • Sergio McClain
  • Chester Frazier
  • Trent Frazier
  • Mike Davis
  • Robert Archibald
  • Jerry Hester
  • Mike Duis
  • Rich McBride
  • Dike Eddleman
  • James Griffin
  • Nnanna Egwu
  • Nick Conner
  • Marcus Griffin
  • Mike Tisdale

So, who do you think will win or was snubbed? Let us know in the comments!