With Hot Start, Groce Making Run At Illini History

Today’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) Minnesota. The Chicago YMCA. Rose Polytechnic Institute. Minnesota again. The Evanston YMCA. Wisconsin. Millikin. Butler. DePaul. Wisconsin again. Houston. Arizona State. Furman. Louisville. North Carolina.

… And Gonzaga?

The initial 13 schools – or, well, Young Men’s Christian Associations – listed above are the teams that handed the first losses to the last 15 men to have coached basketball at the University of Illinois. Meanwhile, the final school listed is the one that could hand current Illinois coach John Groce his first defeat tonight when the 13th-ranked Illini tangle with 10th-ranked Gonzaga out in Spokane.

Or Illinois (9-0) could again best the Bulldogs (9-0), who the Illini have beaten two years in a row, and push Groce one step closer to setting Fighting Illini history with the best-ever start by a first-year coach.

This past Wednesday, after Illinois survived an upset bid from Western Carolina at Assembly Hall, Fox Sports Midwest columnist Andrew Astleford wrote about Groce, “He’s the first Illinois coach to win his first nine games at the university since Fletcher Lane did so more than 100 years ago. That stretch includes a Maui Invitational title in November against a field that featured heavy lifters such as Texas, Marquette and North Carolina.”

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