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NCAAB: Illinois Breaks into Top Ten

The Fighting Illini of Illinois has started their season 11-0. The team has a new head coach, who has brought a new culture and thus far, it is working well. The biggest test for the Illini so far this season was last Saturday when they took on Gonzaga in Gonzaga and walked away with victory 85-74.

The Illini has taken to John Groce their new head coach and are a dangerous team from three-point range. Just ask Gonzaga, which watched the Illini hit 11 of their 26 attempts from three-point range for 33 points.

It is the first time in over a century that an Illinois coach has won his first 10 game for the school. The Illini just broke into the top 10 with a no. 10 ranking in the most recent poll. Brandon Paul is considered by many to be an NBA quality guard and will start being noticed as a player of the year candidate. Paul is averaging 19.5 points per game.

Head Coach Groce said he was pleased for the Illini Nation after the Illinois victory was just the ninth time in the past 118 games that Gonzaga has lost at home.

Illinois is now able to forget about the end of last season, when they went 1-9 in their last 10 games and their head coach was fired after leading them to NCAA tournaments in six of the previous eight seasons, including an opportunity to play for the national championship in 2005.

The returning players from last season were tagged with labels of quitters, but Groce has changed that culture and with Paul on the court inherited a guard who is arguably one of the best in the nation.

In the game against Gonzaga, Paul made 10 of his 16 shots and ended the game with 35 points. He added three assists and three steals to go with four rebounds. On the night, he hit 5 of his 9 shots from three-point range and 10 of his 11 free throws.

Mark Few, the Gonzaga head coach said Paul looked NBA level in the game. His team entered the game ranked no. 10 in the country but has dropped to no. 14 after the loss.

Few people paid attention to Illinois before their victory against Gonzaga, but now the Illini will be on the radar screen of the top teams in the nation. Most of the players are the same ones that quit late last season on Bruce Weber their head coach, but they are believing once again with Groce.

The NCAA season has just begun and for Illinois, the Big Ten season is just around the corner. Once they start their conference games, they will get a complete understanding of their talent and capabilities. For now, they are ranked no. 10 and have a good future to look forward to.

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