Illinois-UCLA. Classic Big Ten rivalry, right?
On November 18th, Illinois and UCLA will square off in the first round of the 2022 Roman Main Event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The other matchup of the first round is Baylor vs. Virginia. The championship and third-place game will be played on November 20th between the four teams.
Illinois and UCLA have not played that much. Illinois is 3-6 all time against the Bruins, and the latest game happened last century. The most recent time these two matched up was December 30, 1997, when Illinois lost 74-69.
All four teams in the 2022 Roman Main Event are expected to be NCAA Tournament teams at the very least.
Last season, the Bruins dipped out of the Tournament in the Sweet 16. However, the blue-blood program brings in two five-stars in Amari Bailer and Adem Bona, as well as four-star Dylan Andrews. Those three recruits help make up the 11th best recruiting class in 2022, two spots below Illinois, according to 247sports.
UCLA still returns many pieces from their magical 2021 Final Four run. Players such as Jaime Jaquez, Jr. and Tyger Campbell, along with former Rutgers standout Myles Johnson add to that touted recruiting class to make the Bruins a team nobody can take lightly.
What are your thoughts on this matchup and how much damage do you think Illinois can do in the 2022 Roman Main Event?