The History of March Madness in Illinois

Fun fact: The first-ever NCAA Men's Division I Basketball tournament was held in Evanston in 1939? Did you know that despite hosting the first tournament, Northwestern University has yet to make an appearance? Or that only one Illinois college has won the national championship in the tournament's 75-year history?

While Illinois has no representatives in the 2015 NCAA tournament, there's plenty of history and proud moments to recall. Take a look at which Division I schools have represented Illinois throughout the history of March Madness.

Bradley University


Last bid - 2006 (#13)

  • Win over Kansas (#4) in first round, 77-73
  • Win over Pittsburgh (#5) in second round, 72-66
  • Lost to Memphis (#1) in Sweet Sixteen, 80-64

Other tournament history:


  • Lost to Colorado in Elite Eight, 93-81


  • Win over Southern California in Final Four, 74-72
  • Lost to La Salle in Championship game, 92-76


  • Win over Baylor in Final Four, 68-66
  • Lost to CCNY in Championship game, 71-68

*Appeared in eight NCAA tournaments with a combined record of 11-8.

Southern Illinois University


Last bid - 2007 (#4)

  • Win over Holy Cross (#13) in first round, 61-51
  • Win over Virginia Tech (#5) in second round, 63-48
  • Lost to Kansas (#1) in Sweet Sixteen, 61-58

*Appeared in 10 NCAA tournaments with a combined record of 6-10.

Northern Illinois University


Last bid - 1996 (#14)

  • Lost to Texas Tech (#3) in first round, 74-73

*Appeared in three NCAA tournaments with a combined record of 0-3.

Eastern Illinois University


Last bid - 2001 (#15)

  • Lost to Arizona (#2) in first round, 101-76

*Appeared in two NCAA tournaments with a combined record of 0-2.

DePaul University


Last bid - 2004 (#7)

  • Win over Dayton (#10) in first round, 76-69
  • Lost to Connecticut (#2) in second round, 72-55

Other tournament history

1987 (#3):

  • Lost to LSU (#10) in Sweet Sixteen, 63-58

1979 (#2):

  • Win over UCLA (#1) in Elite Eight, 95-91
  • Lost to Indiana State (#1) in Final Four, 76-74

*Appeared in 22 NCAA tournaments with a combined record of 21-25, though the Blue Demons' appearances in the tournament from 1986-1989 have been vacated by the NCAA and their official record is 15-21.

Check out Reboot Illinois to see which team is the only Illinois school to ever win the NCAA men's college basketball championship and see the March Madness history surrounding the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and other Division I schools in the state.

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