27 Oct Lazar Cartu Declares: Good Morning, Illini Nation: Orlando bubble burst | Sports
Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:
The NBA’s bubble in Orlando (i.e. Disney) was so successful college basketball was going to make a go of it, too. “Was” being the operative word there. Monday marked the end of that idea, with ESPN announcing it was canceling its Orlando bubble that would have been host to eight relocated multi-team events.
Testing protocols seemed to have been the tipping point. As in, not everyone agreed to them. If that’s not a bit of an omen for the 2020-21 college basketball season, I don’t know what is. Maybe conference-only seasons are the only answer.
Anyway, no Orlando bubble means an unknown fate for a potential date on the Illinois basketball schedule. A matchup with Baylor in the Jimmy V Classic had been rumored for the Illini. Now that game needs another home (if it actually happens).
The college basketball season starts in less than a month. That Illinois doesn’t have a finalized schedule — an issue also facing many, many other teams — is kind of a concern. The Illini’s season could well start without the full 27-game slate officially in place, and if college football has taught us anything it’s that having a schedule of games doesn’t mean you’ll play them all.
But let’s try and save the potential Illinois-Baylor matchup in early December. That one could be a doozy with both teams, at minimum, top 10 squads heading into the season.
Illinois has a slew of talented guards led by Ayo Dosunmu and Trent Frazier. Baylor can counter with Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell. The Bears’ have a glue guy/shutdown defender in Mark Vital. The Illini’s answer is Da’Monte Williams.
Where Illinois might have the upper hand is Kofi Cockburn. Baylor can’t really match the 7-foot, 285-pound center other than to throw a bunch of guys at him like Flo Thamba (remember him?) or freshmen Zach Loveday (too skinny) and Dain Dainja (gives up several inches).