Bruce Weber's Fighting Illini spent 15 weeks of the regular season as the #1 ranked team in the nation. After going 32-1 they were both the Big Ten regular season champions and the Big Ten Tournament champions. Led by a trio of stars in Dee Brown, Luther Head and Deron Williams, Illinois entered the NCAA Tournament as the #1 seed in the Chicago Region.
Illinois breezed through Fairleigh Dickinson, Nevada, and Milwaukee to get to the Elite 8. Waiting for them was #3 seed Arizona. Down 15 with 4 minutes to play and 9 under 1:25 Illinois miraculously tied the game on a Deron Williams 3 that sent the game into OT where they snuck out a 90-89 win and Final Four berth.
The Fighting Illini beat Louisville before falling to North Carolina 75-70 in the National Championship.
"We had been such a good offensive team all year, and that's all people talked about. But when you really study us, we were a great defensive team but we never got the credit because we scored so many points."