26-7 overall, 11-5 conference, 2nd Big Ten
Against the spread
17-12 (8-4 home, 5-4 away)
12-17 (5-7 home, 3-6 away)
2005 Season Summary
The Fighting Illini of Illinois were coming off a dream season in 2004-05 as they went 37-2 straight up and 18-14 against the spread making it all the way to the NCAA Tournament championship game in which they were defeated by North Carolina. The Illini were undefeated all the way to the final regular season game and head coach Bruce Weber was being heralded in just his second season on the job.
Nowhere to go but down
After their epic 2004-05 season there was nowhere to go but down for Illinois as it simply wasn’t possible to put together back-to-back two-loss seasons. The only question was how far would the Illini slip? In addition to that there was the fear amongst the sharper members of the college basketball betting community that Illinois might be overvalued in 2005-06 due to their new status as a big time “name brand” college basketball team. Illinois certainly grabbed everyone’s attention in 2004-05 including the most casual of mainstream gamblers and these bettors were unlikely to be “deprogrammed” from thinking of Illinois as an elite team.
Cranking out the cash
Illinois began regular season play with three consecutive unlined home wins over South Dakota State, Texas-Pan American, and Texas Southern. In their first lined game of the 2005-06 season Illinois barely got past Wichita State 55-54 as 8.5-point neutral court favorites. This was followed by a 77-57 win over Rutgers, again on a neutral court, as 8-point chalks. Illinois next extracted rather meaningless revenge at North Carolina with an 86-64 win as 1-point dogs for two covers in their first three games against the college basketball betting boards.
Illinois beat Xavier 65-62 as a 5.5-neutral court overlay but got back on track against the sportsbooks in their game with a strong 75-49 win over Arkansas-Little Rock as 21.5-point home chalks. The Illini kept cranking out the cash with a 58-48 win over Georgetown as 7-point home chalks and then a most impressive 89-59 win over Oregon on a neutral court as 2-point chalks. After an unlined home win over Coppin State the Illini clobbered Missouri in their annual game at St. Louis 82-50 as 11-point chalks. The four game cover streak stopped with an 82-50 win over SE Missouri State as 32-point home overlays but the Illini got the cash in their next two games with wins over Tennessee-Martin and an early showdown at home versus Michigan State in the league opener to start off 8-3 against the spread.
Correction finally arrived
Illinois was off to a great start which followed the epic 2005 campaign but it was unrealistic for the roll to continue indefinitely. The correction finally arrived as they entered the heart of Big Ten conference play. The Illini lost at Iowa 48-63 as 1.5-point chalks as the wrong team was favored. The next beat Michigan 79-74 as 10-point home overlays and then lost at Indiana 60-62 as 1.5-point dogs. After back-to-back wins and covers at Northwestern and at home against Minnesota, Illinois dropped three of their next four against the spread as they went 2-2 straight up with wins at home over Purdue and at Wisconsin and then an upset home loss to Penn State, (65-66 as 19.5-point overlays), and another loss at Ohio State. It was clear that Illinois was bringing no value on the betting boards at this point as they were 3-6 against the spread during this portion of the schedule.
Reclaimed their at the close
Illinois got themselves back together for the stretch run starting with a 63-47 home win over Northwestern as 15.5-point chalks. This was followed by a 70-58 home win over Indiana as 11-point favorites. Illinois had a brief slip up at Michigan in a 64-72 loss as 2.5-point chalks but reclaimed their value at the close with three consecutive wins and covers starting with a 71-59 revenge triumph over Iowa as 8-point chalks. This was followed by a 71-65 win at Minnesota as 3.5-point favorites and a 75-68 win at Michigan State as 2.5-point dogs as Illinois got the cash in 5 of their final 6 regular season games.
Post season letdown
Illinois was bounced in the Big Ten tournament by Michigan State 56-61 as 3.5-point chalks. In the NCAA Tournament the Illini beat Air Force 78-69 as 7.5-point chalks before losing to Washington 64-67 as 1.5-point favorites to end with a post-season letdown.