Who’s got next at Illinois?

Speculation surrounding the flagging Illini seems to have moved on. It’s no longer a question of whether John Groce should be fired.

Congrats to Groce and his players for a job well done at Northwestern on Tuesday. But that doesn’t change the fact that, barring a miracle, these Illinois seniors will be the first four-year class that doesn’t play in the NCAA tournament since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. Also, the Northwestern win  raises the question of whether coaching is the reason Illinois hasn’t enjoyed more successful efforts like that this season.

Which is why, despite a feel-good win, we’re here to talk about this: Who’s the next guy?

You want names. I’ve got names. I’ll give you eight for now. I haven’t explored them with the in-depth vetting that Josh Whitman and his trusted advisers will need.

But here are some guys to look at:

@ Chris Mack, 47, Xavier. He’s worked for the late Xavier/Wake Forest coach, Skip Prosser, and Arizona coach Sean Miller. . . . has been to the NCAA tournament six times in seven Musketeer years—with three Sweet 16s, two second-rounds, one first round.

@ Kevin Keatts, 44, UNC-Wilmington. Worked for Rick Pitino at Louisville. In two-plus seasons at Wilmington, he is 64-26, including 36-12 in the Colonial. He’s 2-for-2 in conference championships, and in the hunt for a third. The Seahawks played in the NCAA tournament last March. And. . .  he coaches in Michael Jordan’s hometown. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.