No. 10 Zags Host Nationally-Ranked Illinois Saturday
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University is ranked 10th in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Top 25, while the University of Illinois is 13th in the AP rankings, 14th in the USA Today/ESPN balloting.
It's the most intriguing match-up of ranked teams to ever lace up the sneakers on Gonzaga's home court. Higher ranked teams have played at Gonzaga before - Washington State University was 6th in the USA Today/ESPN rankings Dec. 5, 2007, when they won 51-47 in the McCarthey Athletic Center to have the distinction as the highest-ranked team ever at Gonzaga's new home - but never with the Bulldogs equally as highly-ranked. The highest ranked team to ever face the Bulldogs in Spokane was No. 2 Bradley University Feb. 4, 1960, in a game at the now-defunct Spokane Coliseum. Bradley won 80-69. Gonzaga and Illinois were both undefeated last year when the teams met, Gonzaga entering the game 5-0 and Illinois 7-0.
Saturday will be the fourth straight year Gonzaga and the University of Illinois have played, and will be the sixth meeting overall in the series the Fighting Illini lead 4-1. Saturday's game concludes a 4-year series which featured a neutral-neutral, home-home format. Gonzaga downed UI 85-83 in overtime at the United Center in Chicago Jan. 2, 2010, Elias Harris scoring on a cross-over move with 12 seconds to play and then grabbing the rebound at the other end of the floor to secure the win. Illinois prevailed Dec. 4, 2010, in The Battle in Seattle and last year 82-75 at Illinois. The Bulldogs lost 76-58 in the 2001-02 season opener at Illinois and 89-72 Nov. 27, 2004, at the Wooden Tradition at Conseco Arena in Indianapolis, Ind.