Lon Kruger's Fighting Illini entered the 1999-2000 season ranked 16th in the AP Poll and poised to make a run at a Big Ten championship. An up and down January dropped Illinois out of the polls but it wouldn't last. The Illini closed the regular season going 12-2 over their last 14 games before beating Indiana and Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament.
A loss to #5 Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game put Illinois at 21-9 on the season and ranked #21 heading into the NCAA Tournament as the #4 seed in the East Region. A 10 point win over #13 seed Pennsylvania put the Fighting Illini within one game of the Sweet 16. Unfortunately, their season would end at the hands of a hot Florida team that would eventually make it to the National Championship game.