Ole Miss enters the NIT as winners in five of its last six games. The Rebels were 12-2 in home games this season.
POSSESSION IS NINE-TENTHS OF THE LAW
Over the three games of the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, the Redbirds made the most of their possessions. Illinois State posted single-digit turnover totals in each of the three games, while averaging 7.3 turnovers per game for the postseason event. During the regular-season, the Redbirds had three games with single-digit turnovers.
A RETURN TO POSTSEASON
Illinois State, which became an NCAA Division I program prior to the 1970-71 season, will enjoy postseason play for the 18th time this season. The Redbirds have qualified for the NCAA Tournament six times (1983, 1984, 1985, 1990, 1997 and 1998) and the NIT 12 times (1977, 1978, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012).
FOUR OUT OF FIVE AIN'T BAD
By making the 2012 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) field, the Redbirds have earned postseason berths in four of last five seasons, all NIT bids. The last time ISU made four postseason bids in five years was in 1994-95 (NIT), 1995-96 (NIT), 1996-97 (NCAA) and 1997-98 (NCAA).
With Illinois State's 65-64 win over No. 15 Wichita State, the Redbirds posted their 20th victory of the season. With win number 20, Illinois State has now collected four 20-win seasons in the five years under head coach Tim Jankovich.
NOTHING NEW, PART II
Also with the win over No. 15 Wichita State, Illinois State advanced to its third State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship in five years. With that accomplishment, head coach Tim Jankovich became the first coach to lead his team to the title game three times in his first five seasons at a school since Nolan Richardson. The former Tulsa head coach led the Golden Hurricane to the Valley title game in 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985, after coaching in his first tournament in 1981.
The first round NIT game at Mississippi will mark Illinois State's sixth game against a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in school history. The Redbirds have had their way with league by posting a perfect 5-0 mark over the first-five meetings. ISU owns wins over Ole Miss (2), Alabama (1), Arkansas (1) and Tennessee (1) without a single defeat.
397-STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A TREY
Illinois State enters the game with at least one made three in 397-straight games. The last time ISU didn't sink a trey was an 82-43 loss at Creighton, Dec. 12, 1999.
When the Redbird defense is clicking, Illinois State has held 15 opponents this season to under 40 percent shooting, including nine games against Valley opponents, and five teams have shot under 30 percent. In the three 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament games, Illinois State opponents shot a combined 36.7 percent from the field and 32.3 percent on threes.
THE ALLEN BENCH
Since becoming eligible on Dec. 18, sophomore Bryant Allen has been a key component of the Redbird bench. Seeing action in 21 games, all as a reserve, Allen has posted seven double-digit scoring games this season off the bench. In regular-season Valley games, Allen is ISU's third-leading scorer with 9.9 points per game, in 20.6 minutes per contest. By no surprise, Allen was named to the league's all-bench team.
ANOTHER REDBIRD REBOUNDING KING
With 9.6 rebounds per game, Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael is the top rebounder in the Missouri Valley Conference. With the rebounding title, Carmichael became only the second Redbird to lead the Valley in rebounding, joining Dinma Odiakosa, who averaged 8.7 rebounds during the 2009-10 season.
35 YEARS IN THE MAKING
Illinois State's Jackie Carmichael enters the game with a 9.6 rebounding average this season, including a 9.6 rebound per game mark in Valley contests. If Carmichael is able to keep his average above 9.0 rebounds per game for the season, he would be the first Redbird to do so in 35 seasons. Jeff Wilkins, the father of current Redbird John Wilkins, averaged 11.1 rebounds per game during the 1976-77 season.
20 REBOUNDS AT ISU - A RARITY
Jackie Carmichael's career-best 20 rebounds against Drake equaled the most rebounds by a Redbird in the history of Redbird Arena. Carmichael's effort matched Anthony Slack's 20-rebound effort against Creighton on Feb. 27, 2008. Prior to Slack, Illinois State had not had an individual 20-rebound performance since Del Yarbrough grabbed 20 caroms against Northern Illinois, Dec. 22, 1978. Ten days later against Oakland, Carmichael hauled in 19 rebounds to pace the Redbirds.
AMONG THE REDBIRD ELITE
Head coach Tim Jankovich posted his 100th victory at Illinois State in the 79-75 win over Oakland. Now with 103 victories, Jankovich is only the second coach in ISU history to post at least 100 wins in five seasons at the helm. Jankovich joins Kevin Stallings, who won 107 games in his first five seasons at ISU.
CONSISTENT CARMICHAEL = CONSISTENT WINNING
In 22 games this season, Jackie Carmichael has scored in double-figures. In those contests, the Redbirds have posted a 15-7 record. Carmichael has also collected 15 double-digit rebound games this season, resulting in a 12-3 Redbird mark. When he posts a double-double, ISU is 11-2 this season.
MOORE TO COME
Valley All-Freshman Team honoree Nic Moore has dished out at least three assists in 22 games this season. He leads the team with 123 dimes and boasts a 1.78 assist-to-turnover ratio. Moore has dished out five or more assists in a game 10 different times this season, with seven being ISU wins. Moore collected more assists this season, through 19 games, than any Redbird did last season in 31 games.
TOEING THE LINE
Illinois State Jackie Carmichael has made 136 free throws this season on 190 attempts, both of which lead the Redbirds. Carmichael's 136 charity tosses are the most made by a Redbird in a single season since Tarise Bryson converted 207 free throws during the 2000-01 campaign.
This season, Nic Moore became the first Illinois State freshman to post 100 assists in a single season since Victor Williams during the 1998-99 season. Williams finished with 103 assists that season and was named the 1999 Valley Freshman of the Year. Moore has 123 assists, which is the most by an ISU freshman since Ron Jones (212) during the 1976-77 season.
After Bryant Allen's career-high 29 points against Creighton, ISU now has eight players on the roster who have scored at least 20 points in an NCAA Division I game. The eight Redbird players is the most by any team in the Valley. Jackie Carmichael has nine 20-point efforts in his career, including five this season, while Tyler Brown has six 20-point games this season. Nic Moore has scored a pair of 20-point games and Anthony Cousin, John Wilkins and Jon Ekey have each posted one. Trey Blue had a 20-point effort while playing at Fordham.
Junior John Wilkins bears the nickname "Frenchy" from his teammates, being born on French soil. Wilkins is also being called on to be the Redbird stopper this year by the ISU coaching staff. Boasting similar traits used to describe the "French Defence," Wilkins brings solidarity and resilience to the Redbird defensive game plan. Already this season, Wilkins has proven to be a challenge against some of the Valley's best.
IT'S ALL DEFENSE AND REBOUNDING
It sounds a little cliché, but for ISU it is a reality. When comparing the Redbirds' stats in wins and losses, the variances on defensive field goal percentage and rebounding margin is astounding. In victory, Illinois State is holding its opponents to 36.5 percent shooting, while losses have had Redbird foes shooting 47.7 percent. In wins, the Redbirds own a +7.7 rebounding margin, but have a -5.5 margin in defeat.
THE PROOF IS IN THE NUMBERS
Jackie Carmichael was named to the 2012 All-Missouri Valley Conference Second Team, despite putting up first-team type numbers, especially in league play. Carmichael is averaging 13.8 points and a league-best 9.6 rebounds this season, which is coincidently right in line with Dinma Odiakosa's numbers following the 2009-10 season. Odiakosa, who is the last Redbird post player to earn first-team all-league honors, averaged 12.8 points and 8.7 rebounds that season. In regular-season league games, Carmichael averaged 13.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
WHAT BROWN CAN DO FOR YOU
Valley All-Newcomer Team selection Tyler Brown can hit the outside shot. The junior college transfer paces Illinois State with 66 made three-pointers on the season, which ties him for the No. 10 spot for the most threes made in a season at Illinois State.
ON THE REBOUND
A lot has been made of Jackie Carmichael's rebound numbers this season. His 316 boards currently rank No. 6 on Illinois State's all-time single-season best list, becoming the first Redbird to crack the top-10 in single-season rebounding since the 1976-77 campaign.
DON'T LET THE NAME FOOL YOU
ISU has had six different players account for this season's starting lineup, yet none of them are from the state of Illinois. The 'Birds have started players from Kansas (Jackie Carmichael), Missouri (Jon Ekey), Alaska (Anthony Cousin), Indiana (Nic Moore), Kentucky (Tyler Brown) and France (John Wilkins).
JUST THE HALF OF IT
The fate of Illinois State's basketball team can pretty much be decided by only 20 minutes of play. In the Tim Jankovich-era, the Redbirds boast a 72-12 (.857) mark when leading at the half. In addition, ISU owns a 88-8 mark (.917) under Jankovich when leading with five minutes remaining in regulation.
THAT 70's SHOW
ISU's success during the Tim Jankovich-era has been pretty much based on 70 points. When the Redbirds score 70 or more points, Illinois State owns a 56-16 record (.778) in his five seasons. When ISU opponent's score less than 70 points, the Redbirds are 87-30 (.744) during that span.
TWO GUARDS SIGN FOR 2012-13 SEASON
North Chicago High School point guard Aaron Simpson and Anthony Beane Jr., a product of Normal Community High School and the son of Illinois State assistant basketball coach Anthony Beane Sr., will continue their collegiate and basketball careers at Illinois State, after each signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) during the NCAA early signing period. Last season, Simpson averaged 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, while sinking 71 three-point field goals. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior also led North Chicago to a fourth-place finish at the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class 3A State Tournament. Beane, who was named the 2011 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, started the last two seasons at NCHS and averaged 14.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game last year. He led the Ironmen to a fourth-place finish at the IHSA Class 4A State Tournament.