The Flyers boast a 15-2 home record this season.
TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY?
The last time Illinois State and Dayton met on the hardwood was March 24, 2008, on Doug Collins Court in Redbird Arena. In a second round National Invitation Tournament (NIT) contest, Dayton ended the Redbirds' run with a 55-48 defeat in Normal, Ill.
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 17th time this season. The Redbirds have qualified for the NCAA Tournament six times (1983, 1984, 1985, 1990, 1997 and 1998) and the NIT 11 times (1977, 1978, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2008, 2009 and 2010).
By making the 2010 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) field, the Redbirds have earned postseason berths in each of the last three seasons, all NIT bids. The last time ISU made three-straight postseason bids was in 1995-96 (NIT), 1996-97 (NCAA) and 1997-98 (NCAA).
In his three years at the helm, Tim Jankovich has turned Illinois State from a probable Valley play-in team into a part of the championship conversation. Jankovich and his staff have returned ISU basketball to its glory with a three-year record of 71-30 (.703), including a 35-19 (.648) mark in Valley regular-season games. In the three years prior to this staff's arrival, ISU was 41-48 (.461) overall and 18-36 (.333) in league play.
ONE MORE WIN AWAY
With a victory Wednesday at Dayton, Illinois State would set the school record for the winningest three-year period in school history. The Redbirds have 71 wins since the start of the 2007-08 season, which ties the combined victory total of the 1995-96 (22), 1996-97 (24) and 1997-98 (25) seasons.
TWENTY, TWENTY, TWENTY, THEY'VE DONE IT AGAIN
With the BracketBusters win over Morehead State, ISU posted its third-straight 20-win season, which hadn't happened in Normal, Ill., since the 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98 campaigns. It also became the 16th 20-win season for the Redbirds since the program became an NCAA Division I program prior to the 1970-71 season. ISU is the only Valley school to post 20 regular-season wins in each of the last three seasons.
THAT'S A FIRST
Illinois State joined the Missouri Valley Conference prior to the 1981-82 season, but until this year, the Redbirds have never had two players named first-team All-Valley in the same season. Seniors Osiris Eldridge and Dinma Odiakosa were each named to the All-Valley First Team, while Eldridge became the 41st player in league history to be named first team over three seasons (2008, 2009 and 2010).
The Redbirds haven't had to face much adversity in the Tim Jankovich-era, but when coming off a rare loss Illinois State has responded well. The Redbirds are 21-8 (.204) in the 29 previous games when coming off a loss under the guidance of Jankovich.
Head coach Tim Jankovich owns a 31-8 record (.795) against non-conference opponents during his time with the Redbirds.
HAVEN'T SEEN THIS SINCE THE 13¢ STAMP
Illinois State's Dinma Odiakosa is averaging 8.8 rebounds per game this season, which is the highest single-season rebounding average by a Redbird in 33 years! Jeff Wilkins averaged 11.1 rebounds per game during the 1976-77 season, back when a first-class postage stamp was 13 cents. Jimmy Carter was the President of the United States, while Rocky received the Academy Award for Best Picture. In addition, Wilkins accomplished this feat eight years before Odiakosa was even born.
CARMICHAEL WITH THE RECORD BLOCK
Early this season, it appeared Jackie Carmichael was going to challenge the ISU freshman record for blocked shots in a season. With a career-best six blocks against the Sycamores and four more at Northern Iowa, Carmichael set the standard for first-year Redbirds and now has 46 blocks on the season, including 14 combined in the last four games. He topped the old mark of 36 set by Mike VandeGarde during his freshman campaign in 1990-91. Carmichael was also named to the Valley All-Freshman Team.
MOVING ON UP
Osiris Eldridge continues to pass the greatest scorers in ISU history. The Chicago native became the fifth player in ISU history to score 1,800-points in his career with 14 points at UNI (Feb. 27). He currently ranks No. 5 with 1,826 career tallies and needs 14 more to surpass Ron Jones (1,839) for fourth place.
Dinma Odiakosa has been nothing short of dazzling as of late. Not only has he had a 30-point scoring effort, but he has scored in double-figures in 13-of-14 games. During that span, he is averaging a team-best 15.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, while being named Valley Player of the Week twice.
First-team all-conference selections Osiris Eldridge (15.7 ppg.) and Dinma Odiakosa (8.8 rpg.) lead the Valley in scoring and rebounding, respectively, and are looking to become the first teammates to sweep those statistical categories since 1992 (Ashraf Amaya of Southern Illinois did both that year). That statistical double has only happened eight times in the past 50 seasons.
THE TRADITION CONTINUES
In the 39 completed years of being an NCAA Division I program, the Redbirds have had 32 winning seasons. With 22 wins this season, the Redbirds are guaranteed another winning season this year.
THAT 70's SHOW
ISU's success this season is pretty much based on 70 points. When the Redbirds score 70 or more points this season, Illinois State is 16-1. When ISU opponent's score less than 70 points, the Redbirds are 18-5.
THE COMEBACK KIDS
After trailing by five points at halftime against Missouri State, the Redbirds rallied for a 76-72 Valley win. The victory marked the seventh time this season when ISU won after trailing at half. The Redbirds are 7-9 this season when behind at intermission. When leading at the half, ISU is 14-0.
332-STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A TREY
Illinois State enters the Dayton game with at least one made three in 332-straight games. The last time ISU didn't sink a trey was an 82-43 loss at Creighton, Dec. 12, 1999.
VALUING THE ROCK
Illinois State's Alex Rubin sees the value in an offensive possession. As a result, he leads the team in assist-to-turnover ratio on the season. Rubin boasts a 3.40 assist-to-turnover ratio with 68 assists and only 20 turnovers.
Against Indiana State Feb. 24, Illinois State's Dinma Odiakosa and Tony Lewis notched double-doubles in the same game for the second time this season. The effort was Odiakosa's 11th double-double of the season, while Lewis earned his second. The Redbirds, as a team, have posted 16 double-double performances this season, with Jackie Carmichael (2) and Kellen Thornton (1) providing the others.
Heading into the season, senior Dinma Odiakosa had never scored 20 or more points in a collegiate game. So far this season, he has scored 20 or more points in four games, and has notched his first 30-point scoring effort. Odiakosa fired in 30 points against Missouri State and became the first non-guard Redbird to score 30 points in a game since Rico Hill's 31-point scoring game against Missouri State, March 3, 1997, in the championship game of the State Farm Valley Tournament.
HE GIVETH, AND HE TAKETH AWAY
Senior Lloyd Phillips leads ISU in assists and steals this season. He has dished out 130 assists, or 4.1 per game, which ranks third in the Valley. He also leads the Valley in steals with 59, or 1.8 per game. With his 59 steals, Phillips is currently tied for second on ISU's all-time single-season steal total. Phillips has 11 games this season with three or more steals. In those 11 games, the Redbirds are 11-0.
THE 700 CLUB
With a career-best 15 rebounds at Bradley Feb. 9, Dinma Odiakosa pushed his career rebounding total over the 700 plateau and now has 768 career boards. As a result, Odiakosa became only the ninth Redbird in school history to total 700 or more rebounds in a career.
Dinma Odiakosa has been on a different wavelength this season. The senior is shooting 60.9 percent from the field (156-for-256), which leads the Valley. Odiakosa's season percentage would rank sixth all-time, if the season ended today.
OSIRIS, THE GOD OF THE THREES
In mythology, Osiris is an Egyptian god, typically called the god of the afterlife, underworld or dead. In Redbird lore, Osiris Eldridge is now the god of the three-point shot. With three treys against Central Michigan, Eldridge became the school-record holder and has 274 career three-point field goals, surpassing the old mark by Gregg Alexander of 224. Eldridge ranks No. 6 all-time in the Valley and is two made threes behind former Missouri State guard Blake Ahearn (276).
In the inaugural Mountain West-Missouri Valley Conference Challenge Series only one road team walked away with the win. ISU claimed a 73-63 win at Utah and became the only road team to win the newly-created challenge between the two conferences, as the Valley posted a 5-4 win in the series. Overall this season, Illinois State is 6-7 on the road.
TWO SIGN FOR 2010 CLASS
Illinois State head coach Tim Jankovich announced the signing of two incoming players during the early signing period. ISU added Kenyon Smith (guard, 6-0, 190) from Lincoln College and Jordan Threloff (center, 6-10, 240) from DeKalb High School. Smith originally signed with ISU out of Simeon High School, but was declared academically ineligible by the NCAA. If he receives his associate's degree this school year, Smith will have three years of eligibility remaining at ISU, while Threloff will enter as a true freshman.