top of page

UConn Advances To March Madness Final Four With Commanding Win Over Illinois

Ollie Velez

Star Donavan Clingan during UConn’s win in the Elite Eight.

The NCAA March Madness Basketball tournament is always one of the most exciting parts of the year in college sports. In 2023, fourth-seed Uconn Huskies capped off their phenomenal season with a win over the San Diego State Aztecs to claim the program’s fifth national championship. This season, the program has continued its dominance, finishing the regular season with a 31-3 record, while also capturing a Big East tournament championship. Through three more dominant wins in the NCAA tournament, the Huskies found themselves in the Elite Eight on March 30 versus the Illinois Fighting Illini. 

Many anticipated this game to be a thriller. This tough Illinois squad, led by Senior Terrance Shannon Jr, had the most efficient offense in the country. Some believed Illinois could even pull off the upset over the defending champs and snap their nine-game tournament win streak. 

For much of the first half, the game was very close. The two remained tied at 23 late into the first half. However, toward the end of the first half and well into the second half, the Huskies began to dominate the game. The team pulled off a remarkable 30-0 run. After taking complete control with this run, the Huskies never looked back and finished the game with a 77-52 victory. 

UConn held Illinois to 25 percent shooting for the night, while also holding star Terrance Shannon Jr. to just eight points on 2-12 shooting. Illinois missed their last three shots of the first half and their first 14 shots to start the second half. 

The 7 foot 2 inch star Donavan Clingan led the way for the Huskies, finishing with 22 points, ten rebounds, and five blocks. Cam Spencer and Hassan Diarra were also impressive in the win. Spencer had 11 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists, while Diarra had 11 points. 

After the game, UConn Coach Dan Hurley said, “We’re going to be tough to beat. It was a special level of basketball that we were playing.” His squad will in fact be tough to beat as they look to repeat as champions for the first time since the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2007. 

UConn continues to prove how dominant they are. This win marks their record-setting tenth consecutive victory by double digits in March Madness. “This is the best UConn team I have ever seen,” former UConn forward Donny Marshall shared. He continued by acknowledging Hurley’s great coaching, saying, “We know he's passionate and intense, and brings that out of the players. But he's so great at managing a game, too.”

First-seeded UConn is set to play the Fourth-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide in the Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona on April 6. The winner will play either the first-seed Purdue Boilermakers or 11th-seed NC State Wolfpack in the national championship on April 8. 

Editor’s Note: This article was written prior to April 6.


bottom of page