Chicago Brewery Challenge: The Beer List

In an effort to promote the amazing brews of the Chicagoland area, I’ve begun devising a plan to visit and try more than 77 breweries in 18 hours.

Homer Beer

A gentleman accomplished the feat in Portland, and the ultra-competitive midwesterner in me wants to top it.

(Reminder: The plan is try each brew with a one-ounce steins and just a few pints at milestone stops in order to drink responsibly.)

Thankfully, some fellow enthusiasts are game and so are some of my favorite breweries.

 

 

Now we’re identifying all potential breweries we can possibly visit before planning a route. Going off the Hop Review database, there are 67 breweries in Chicago and 87 in the areas around the season. While there are Illinois breweries listed as far north as Zion, I think Tighthead Brewing in Mundelein is where I’m willing to begin. There are a number of south suburb breweries as well but for time’s sake, going as far as the Northwest Indiana (notably 3 Floyds), sounds worth the finish. 

The next steps will include plotting a route with 80 or so brewers chosen, and then reaching out to each one to see what’s good. For now, here is a preliminary list of where the #ChiBrewChallenge adventure could go! 

In The City…

Alarmist Brewing 4055 W. Peterson Ave. – North Park 60646

Ale Syndicate 2601 W. Diversey Ave. – Logan Square 60647

Aleman (In Progress) 3304 N. Knox Ave. – Belmont Cragin 60641

All Rise Brewing Co 235 N. Ashland Ave. – West Loop 60607

Andersonville Brewing 5402 N. Clark St. – Andersonville 60640

Aquanaut Brewing 5435 N. Wolcott Ave. – Bowmanville 60640

Arcade Brewery 2601 W. Diversey Ave. – Logan Square 60647

Argus Brewery 11314 S. Front Ave. – Roseland 60628

Around the Bend Beer Co. 2601 W. Diversey Ave. – Logan Square 60647

Atlas Beer Company 2747 N. Lincoln Ave. – Lincoln Park 60614

Baderbräu (In Progress, Beer Available) 2515 S. Wabash – Bronzeville 60611

Band of Bohemia (In Progress) 4710 N. Ravenswood – Ravenswood 60640

Berghoff Brewery 17 W. Adams St. – Loop 60603

Begyle Brewing Company 1800 W. Cuyler St. – Northcenter 60613

Birreria Chicago 43 East Ohio St. – River North 60611

Bixi Brewery (In Progress) 2515 N. Milwaukee Ave. – Logan Square 60647

Bold Dog Brewing (In Planning) 1935 E Irving Park Rd. – Northcenter 60613

Breakroom Brewery 2925 W. Montrose Ave. – Irving Park 60618

Bucket List Brewing (In Planning) Chicago, IL 60641

Chicago Beer Company (Beer Available) 1140 W. Randolph St. – West Loop 60607

Corridor Brewery & Provisions 3446 N. Southport Ave – Lakeview 60657

Crooked Fork Brewing (In Planning) 4419 W. Montrose Ave – Mayfair 60641

Cruz Blanca (In Progress) 900 W. Randolph St. – West Loop 60607

Diversey Brewing Company (In Planning) – Logan Square 60647

DryHop Brewers 3155 N. Broadway Ave. – Lakeview 60657

Empirical Brewing 1801 W. Foster Ave. – Ravenswood 60640

Eris Brewery & Ciderhouse (In Planning) 4240 W. Irving Park Rd. – Old Irving 60641

Finch’s Beer Company 4565 N Elston Ave. – Avondale 60630

Forbidden Root 1746 W. Chicago Ave. – West Town 60622 

Gino’s East Brewing Company 500 N. LaSalle St. – River North 60654

Goose Island Beer Company 1800 W. Fulton St. – Near West Side 60612

Goose Island – Clybourn 1800 N. Clybourn St. – Lincoln Park 60614

Great Central Brewing (In Planning) 1745 W. Walnut St. – Near West Side 60612

Greenstar Brewing Co 3800 N. Clark St. – Lakeview 60613

Half Acre Beer Company Tap Room 4257 N. Lincoln Ave. – Northcenter 60618

Half Acre Beer Company (In Progress) 2050 W. Balmoral Ave. – Bowmanville 60640

Haymarket Pub & Brewery 737 W. Randolph St. – West Loop 60661

Hopewell Brewing (In Progress) 2760 N. Milwaukee Ave. – Logan Square 60647

Hopothesis Beer Company 730 W. Randolph St. – West Loop 60661

Horse Thief Hollow 10426 S. Western Ave. – Beverly 60643

Illuminated Brew Works 415 N. Sangamon Ave. – West Loop 60642

Lagunitas Brewing Company 1843 S. Washtenaw Ave. – Douglas Park 60608

Lake Effect Brewing Company 4727 W. Montrose Ave. – Irving Park 60641

Like Minds Brewing 1800 W. Walnut St. – Near West Side 60612

Lo Rez Brewing (In Planning) Chicago, IL

Mad Mouse Brewery 724 Maxwell St. – University Village/Little Italy 60607

Maplewood Brewery & Distillery 2717 N. Maplewood Ave. – Logan Square 60647

Marz Community Brewing 3315 S. Halsted St. – Bridgeport 60608

Metropolitan Brewing 5121 N Ravenswood Ave. – Ravenswood 60640

Mikerphone Brewing (Beer Available) 3223 S. Kolin Ave. – South Lawndale 60623

Moody Tongue 2136 S. Peoria St. – Pilsen 60608

Motor Row Brewing 2337 S. Michigan Ave. – South Loop 60616

Off Color Brewing 3925 W. Dickens Ave. – Hermosa 60639

Piece Brewery & Pizzeria 1927 W. North Ave. – Wicker Park 60622

Pipeworks Brewing Company 1675 N. Western Ave. – Bucktown 60647

Revolution Brewing 3340 N. Kedzie Ave. – Avondale 60618

Revolution Brewing Brewpub 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave. – Logan Square 60647

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery 1 W. Grand Ave. – River North 60610

SlapShot Brewing 3223 S. Kolin Ave. – South Lawndale 60623

South Loop Brewing Company (Beer Available) Chicago, IL

Spiteful Brewing 1815 W. Berteau Ave. – Northcenter 60613

Transient Artisan Ales (In Planning, Gypsy Brewer) Chicago, IL

Une Année Brewery 1638 W. Hubbard St. – West Town 60622

Veteran Beer Company (In Planning) Chicago, IL

Vice District Brewing 1454 S. Michigan Ave. – South Loop 60605

Whiner Brewery (In Progress) 1400 W. 46th St. – Back of the Yards 60609

 

Around Chicago/Suburbs

3 Floyds Brewing Company 9750 Indiana Pkwy., Munster, IN 46321

5 Rabbit Cervecería 6399 W. 74th St., Bedford Park, IL 60638

18th Street Brewery 5725 Miller Ave., Gary, IN 46403

51st Ward Brewing (Contracting – Beer Available) Westmont, IL

350 Brewing Company 7144 W. 183rd St., Tinley Park, IL 60477

Arrowhead Ales Brewing Company (In Planning, Beer Available) New Lenox, IL

Ancient Owl Brewing (In Planning) Lombard, IL

Banging Gavel Brews (Beer Available) Palos Heights, IL

Big Hurt Brewing 6801 W. Cermak Rd., Berwyn, IL 60402

Black Belt Brewery (In Planning) Lake Zurich, IL

Blue Island Brewing Company 13357 Old Western Ave., Blue Island, IL 60406

Blue Nose Brewery 6119 East Ave., Hodgkins, IL 60525

Brickstone Brewery 557 William R. Latham Senior Dr., Bourbonnais, IL 60914

BuckleDown Brewing 8699 W 47th St., Lyons, IL 60534

Bulldog Brewing Company 1409 119th St., Whiting, IN 46394

Byway Brewing Company (In Planning) 2825 Carlson Dr., Hammond, IN 46323

Cademon Brewing Company 217 W. Main St., Genoa, IL 60135

Cahoots Brewing (In Planning) Downtown/Lake St. – Oak Park, IL

Chain O’Lakes Brewing Company 3425 Pearl St., McHenry, IL 60050

Church Street Brewing 1480 Industrial Dr. Unit C, Itasca, IL 60143

Crown Brewing 211 S. East St., Crown Point, IN 46307

Crystal Lake Brewing 150 N. Main St., Crystal Lake, IL 60014

The Devil’s Trumpet Brewing Co. 8250 Utah St., Merrillville, IN 46410

Dry City Brew Works 120B N. Main St., Wheaton, IL 60187

Emmett’s Brewing Company 110 N. Brockway St., Palatine, IL 60067

Evil Horse Brewing Company (In Progress) 1336 Main St., Crete, IL 60417

Exit Strategy Brewing Co. 7700 W Madison, Forest Park, IL 60130

Figure Eight Brewing 150 S. Washington St., Valparaiso, IN 46383

Flapjack Brewery (In Planning) Berwyn, IL

Flesk Brewing 844 N. Ridge Ave., Lombard, IL 60148

Flossmoor Station Brewing Company 1035 Sterling Ave., Flossmoor, IL 60422

Four Fathers Brewing 1555 W. Lincolnway Suite 105, Valparaiso, IN 46385

Gordon Biersch 639 E. Boughton Rd. #100, Bolingbrook, IL 60440

Granite City Brewery – Naperville 1828 Abriter Ct., Naperville, IL 60563

Granite City Brewery – Orland Park 14035 S. La Grange Rd., Orland Park, IL 60462

Granite City Brewery – Schaumburg 801 Plaza Dr., Schaumburg, IL 60173

Hailstorm Brewing Company 8060 186th St., Tinley Park, IL 60487

Hofbräuhuas Chicago 5500 Park Pl., Rosemont, IL 60018

Hopvine Brewing Company 4030 Fox Valley Center Dr., Aurora, IL 60504

Hunter’s Brewing 1535 S. Calumet Rd., Chesterton, IN 46304

Imperial Oak Brewing 501 Willow Blvd., Willow Springs, IL 60480

Ironwood Brewing Co. 6 Roosevelt Rd, Valparaiso, IN 46383

Lake Bluff Brewing Company  16 E. Scranton Ave., Lake Bluff, IL 60044

Light the Lamp Brewery 10 N. Lake St., Grayslake, IL 60030

The Lucky Monk 105 Hollywood Blvd., South Barrington, IL 60010

Lunar Brewing Company 54 E. St. Charles Rd. #11, Villa Park, IL 60181

Metal Monkey Brewing (In Progress) 515 Anderson Dr. #900, Romeoville, IL 60446

Mickey Finn’s Brewery 412 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, IL 60048

Middle Brow Beer Company 2701 Deborah Ave., Zion, IL 60099

Miskatonic Brewing Company 1000 N. Frontage Rd., Darien, IL 60561

Nevin’s Brewing Company 12337 S. Rte. 59 #155, Plainfield, IL 60585

New Oberpfalz Brewing 121 E. Main St., Griffith, IN 46319

Noon Whistle Brewing 800 E. Roosevelt Rd., Lombard, IL 60148

Oak Park Brewing Company (In Progress) 155 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302

One Trick Pony Brewery 17933 Chappel Ave., Lansing, IL 60438

Only Child Brewing 1350 Tri State Pkwy, Ste 124, Gurnee, IL 60031

Peckish Pig 623 Howard St., Evanston, IL 60202

Penrose Brewing Company 509 Stevens St., Geneva, IL 60134

Pokro Brewing Company 311 North Broad Street, Griffith, IN  46319

Pollyanna Brewing Company 431 Talcott Ave., Lemont, IL 60439

Rock Bottom – Lombard 94 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard, IL 60148

Rock Bottom – Orland Park 16156 S. La Grange Rd., Orland Park, IL 60467

Rock Bottom – Warrenville 28256 Diehl Rd., Warrenville, IL 60555

Route 2 Brews 141 Harding Dr., Lowell, IN 46356

Rude Hippo Brewing Company 5725 Miller Ave., Gary, IN 46403

Saint John Malt Brothers Brewing 9607 Wicker Ave., St. John, IN 46373

Scorched Earth Brewing Company 203 Berg St., Algonquin, IL 60102

Sketchbook Brewing  825 Chicago Ave., Evanston, IL 60202

Small Town Brewery 1000 Brown St. #212, Wauconda, IL 60084

Smylie Bros. Brewing  1615 Oak Ave., Evanston, IL 60201

Solemn Oath Brewery 1661 Quincy Ave. #179, Naperville, IL 60540

Stockholm’s Brewpub  306 W. State St., Geneva, IL 60134

Temperance Beer Company 2000 Dempster St., Evanston, IL 60202

Ten Ninety Brewing 2701 Deborah Ave., Zion, IL 60099

Three Angels Brewing 10482 Ashley Rd., Yorkville, IL 60560

Tighthead Brewing Company 161 N. Archer Ave., Mundelein, IL 60060

Transient Artisan Ales (Brewing at One Trick Pony) 17933 Chappel Ave., Lansing, IL 60438

Tribes Alehouse Brewery 11220 W. Lincoln Hwy., Mokena, IL 60448

Two Brothers Brewing 30W315 Calumet Ave. W., Warrenville, IL 60555

Two Brothers Roundhouse 205 N. Broadway, Aurora IL 60505

Urban Legend Brewing Company 1115 Zygmunt Cir., Westmont, IL 60559

Village Vitner Winery & Brewery 2380 Esplanade Dr., Algonquin, IL 60102

Werk Force 14903 S. Center St., Plainfield, IL 60544

Wild Onion Pub & Brewery 22221 N. Pepper Rd., Lake Barrington, IL 60010

Wildrose Brewing 1104 E. Main St., Griffith, IN 46319

Windmill Brewing 2121 Gettler St, Dyer, IN 46311

ZümBier 3232 E. Monroe St., Waukegan, IL 60085

 

There are 154 breweries total listed but if you know or recommend others, please let me know on either Facebook or Twitter

 

I can also be reached by email at piff.michael@gmail.com. Check back as the plan keeps coming together!

#TBT Year in Review: 2005

Looking back a decade ago.

  • Watergate whistleblower “Deep Throat” was revealed to be former FBI Associate Director Mark Felt.
  • Pope John Paul II passed away, Pope Benedict XVI succeeded him.
  • YouTube is launched. First video is uploaded April 23rd at 8:27 PM ET. 
  • “Live 8”, 10 simultaneous concerts around the world, took place featuring more than 1,000 artists broadcasted on 182 TV networks and 2,000 radio stations. 
  • Actor John Spencer passed away at the age of 58.

And here’s what we saw from the world’s of Movies, Music, and Sports

Movies

Comedy

The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Wedding Crashers, Hitch, The Longest Yard, The Pacifier, Bewitched, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Fun with Dick and Jane, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Fever Pitch, Waiting, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Just Like Heaven, Guess Who, The Duke’s of Hazzard, The Man, The Ringer, Kicking and Screaming, Rumor Has It, A Lot Like Love, Be Cool, and…

Thank You For Smoking

(starring Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg’s doppleganger)

Action/Thriller 

Batman Begins, Lord of War, Harsh Times, Saw II, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Island, Hostage, V for Vendetta, Flightplan, The Interpreter, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chaos, Doom, Red Eye, The Descent, Into the Blue, Assault on Precinct 13, War of the Worlds, Hostel, The Cave, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Four Brothers, Transporter 2, Serenity, Elektra, Stay, Hide and Seek, Hard Candy, The Skeleton Key, The Devil’s Rejects, Domino, House of Wax, Revolver, and…

Sin City

(wish the sequel was better)

Drama

Brokeback Mountain, Walk the Line, North Country, Kingdom of Heaven, Pride and Prejudice, The New World, Capote, The Constant Gardner, A History of Violence, The Family Stone, Coach Carter, Proof, Derailed, Cinderella Man, Elvis, Munich, The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio, Green Street Hooligans, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Squid and the Whale, The Jacket, An Unfinished Life, The Proposition, Syriana, Archangel, Lords of Dogtown, Jarhead, and…

Good Night and Good Luck

And the Oscar goes to…

The 78th Academy Awards

Best Actor

  • Terrance Howard, Hustle and Flow
  • Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
  • Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
  • David Strathairn, Good Night and Good Luck
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote – Winner

Best Supporting Actor

  • Matt Dillon, Crash
  • Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
  • William Hurt, A History of Violence
  • George Clooney, Syriana- Winner

(Clooney was also nominated twice more that night for Directing and Writing Good Night and Good Luck)

Best Actress

  • Judie Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
  • Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
  • Keira Knightly, Pride & Prejudice
  • Charlize Theron, North Country
  • Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line – Winner

Best Supporting Actress

  • Frances McDormand, North Country
  • Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
  • Amy Adams, Junebug
  • Catherine Keener, Capote
  • Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener – Winner

Best Picture

  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Capote
  • Good Night and Good Luck
  • Munich
  • Crash – Winner

(Also won Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing)

Music

Rock Albums

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Hip Hop Albums

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Pop Albums

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Billboard Year-End Top 25

01. “We Belong Together” – Mariah Carey

02. “Hollaback Girl” – Gwen Stefani

03. “Let Me Love You” – Mario

04. “Since U Been Gone” – Kelly Clarkson

05. “1, 2 Step” – Ciara and Missy Elliott

06. “Gold Digger” – Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx

07. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” – Green Day

08. “Candy Shop” – 50 Cent

09. “Don’t Cha” – The Pussycat Dolls featuring Busta Rhymes

10. “Behind These Hazel Eyes” – Kelly Clarkson

11. “Disco Inferno” – 50 Cent

12. “You and me” – Lifehouse

13. “Don’t Phunk With My Heart” – Black Eyed Peas

14. “Lose Control” – Missy Elliott featuring Ciara and Fatman Scoop

15. “Shake It Off” – Mariah Carey

16. “Mr. Brightside” – The Killers

17. “Just a Lil Bit” – 50 Cent

18. “Pon de Replay” – Rihanna

19. “How We Do” – The Game featuring 50 Cent

20. “Beverly Hills” – Weezer

21. “Oh” – Ciara featuring Ludacris

22. “Lonely No More” – Rob Thomas

23. “Drop It Like It’s Hot” – Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell

24. “Hate It or Love It” – The Game featuring 50 Cent

25. “Lovers & Friends” – Lil Jon featuring Usher and Ludacris

Sports

Baseball

League Leaders:

Offensive

Average: Derek Lee (CHC) – .335

Hits: Michael Young (TEX) – 221

Home Runs: Andruw Jones (ATL) – 51

RBI: David Ortiz (BOS) – 148

OPS: Derek Lee (CHC) – 1.080

Stolen Bases: Chone Figgins (LAA) – 62

Pitching

Wins: Dontrelle Willis (FLA) – 22

ERA: Roger Clemens (HOU) – 1.87

Strikeouts: Johan Santana (MIN) – 238

Complete Games: Dontrelle Willis (FLA) & Chris Carpenter (STL) – 7

Shutouts: Dontrelle Willis (FLA) – 5

Saves: Chad Cordero (WSH) – 47

MVP

AL – Alex Rodriguez (NYY)

NL – Albert Pujols (STL)

CY Young

AL – Bartolo Colon (LAA)

NL – Chris Carpenter (STL)

Rookie of the Year

AL – Huston Street (OAK)

NL – Ryan Howard (PHI)

World Series:

Chicago White Sox sweep Houston Astros (4-0)

Basketball

NCAA

Final Four:

(1) Illinois, (4) Louisville, (1) North Carolina and (5) Michigan State

National Championship:

(1) North Carolina over (1) Illinois 75-70

NBA

League Leaders

Points Per Game: Allen Iverson (PHI) – 30.7

Rebounds Per Game: Kevin Garnett (MIN) – 13.5

Assists Per Game: Steve Nash (PHX) – 11.5

All-NBA Team

Tim Duncan (SA)

Allen Iverson (PHI)

Steve Nash (PHX)

Dirk Nowitzki (DAL)

Shaquille O’Neal (MIA)

MVP: Steve Nash (PHX)

Rookie of the Year: Emeka Okafor (CHA)

NBA Finals

San Antonio Spurs over Detroit Pistons (4-3)

Football

NCAA

Heisman Trophy:

Reggie Bush (USC)

National Championship

(2) Texas over (1) USC 41-38 in the Rose Bowl

NFL

League Leaders

Passing Yards: Tom Brady (NE) – 4,110

Passing Touchdowns: Carson Palmer (CIN) – 32

Passer Rating: Peyton Manning (IND) – 104.1

Rushing Yards: Shaun Alexander (SEA) – 1,880

Rushing TD: Shaun Alexander (SEA) – 27

Receiving Yards: Steve Smith (CAR) – 1,563

Receiving Touchdowns: Marvin Harrison (IND) & Steve Smith (CAR) – 12

Receptions: Larry Fitzgerald (AZ) & Steve Smith (CAR) – 103

AP MVP: Shaun Alexander (SEA)

Super Bowl XL

Pittsburgh Steelers over Seattle Seahawks 21-10

Hockey

Sorry Hockey fans…

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 5.46.12 PM

Did I miss anything? Let me know on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03.

Also checkout past #TBT Years in Review.

2011

2006

1998

1992

1989

1987

No Excuses Next Year, Illini Hoops

Did you have high expectations for the 2014-15 Fighting Illini?

John Groce did. He had to. He’s the coach.

John Groce gif

The team and fan base probably did. And why not? What’s the point of playing or being a fan without some belief?

I did not. While the team didn’t have much turnover from 2013-14 (just graduating Joseph Bertrand and Jon Ekey), they didn’t add much either to a squad that only reached the 2nd round of the NIT. Yes, the roster gained a year of experience, and that showed in Big Ten breakout Malcolm Hill. However it did not show in leading scorer Rayvonte Rice, who found himself suspended from the team following extended time out with a broken left hand.

Would the 2014-15 Illini won more games with Rice on the floor? Probably. Would a handful of extra wins put them in the NCAA tourney? In this year’s Big Ten…certainly. It wasn’t about THIS year for the Illini, though. As difficult as it is for anyone with vested interest in Illini basketball to hear it, success was a luxury rather than a necessity. That is because the incoming class will make or break the Groce era.

Ranked 15th by ESPN, 10th by 247 (CBS), and 16th by Rivals (Yahoo! Sports), the 2015 class will be Illinois’ best recruiting class in years. Having covered 3 of the 4 commits in person, I can tell you the Illini will add scoring and a lot of it. Local Chicago area stars DJ Williams (ranked 63rd in the nation on Rivals) 6’7 from Simeon High School and Aaron Jordan (ranked 83rd) are long and athletic players with range and a knack for attacking the paint. Jordan is more of a jump shooter, passive compared to Williams, but knows how to get to the free throw line when it’s needed. Williams, amazingly, has been able to shine on a Simeon squad full of D1 talent and that bodes well when it comes to meshing with his new Illini teammates.

Jalen Coleman, a 6’3 shooting guard from La Porte, IN (Indianapolis area), is the real catch and not based on his rankings alone. Playing against some of the country’s best in AAU, Coleman proved to be a prolific scorer. He made half of his 92 three-point attempts leading up to the NIKE EYBL Peach Jam Championship tournament in Augusta, South Carolina last summer. He can run the floor when asked to, but has the ability to take over a game by himself…a huge difference when it comes to college basketball.

The Illini will also be adding Darius Paul, who technically was already a member of the team but was suspended for 2014 because of a failed drug test and underage drinking. He is the younger brother of former Illinois star Brandon Paul, a 6’8 power forward from Gurnee, IL, and played this season at Lamar State junior college in Texas. Illinois will need all the size they can get after Nnanna Egwu graduates this year and Paul has the opportunity to contribute in a big way with his 2 years of eligibility.

After missing the year due to injury, senior Tracy Abrams will have another year of eligibility. Abrams tore his ACL last September, but spent the season providing much needed leadership for the team this season, leadership that will hopefully translate to hardwood next Fall. Hill will be depended on to replace the scoring after Rice graduates, much like he did during the injury and suspension.

The big knock on Groce and the Illinois program in recent years has been their inability to keep highly touted recruits in-state. Duke’s Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young HS, Chicago) and Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky (Benet Academy, Lisle, IL) were this year’s NCAA All-American headliners. The nation’s top point guard recruit Jalen Brunson (Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, IL) chose Villanova. Catholic League star Charles Matthews (St. Rita, Chicago) selected Kentucky a year ago. And Illinois Top-10 players like Glynn Watson (St. Joseph), Ed Morrow (Simeon) and Brandon Hutton (De La Salle) all chose other Big Ten schools to take their talents to.

If Illinois basketball proves they can win with the in-state talent they committed already, the program will become more attractive to recruits in the Chicagoland area. If they win big games on national television, step up in the Big Ten conference, play well in the NCAA tournament, and put players in the NBA, more talent will stay in-state. That’s a lot of “ifs”, but it is plausible. And because it is plausible, that means no excuses in the 2015-16 season…year 4 of the Groce era.