Georgia is making its 12th appearance in the NCAA final match, while the Illini are making their second in the last five years. The final match is scheduled to be shown live on ESPN U.
The Illini (23-8) are coming off another spectacular win in the NCAA tournament, this time over No. 3-seeded Baylor (28-4) in the semifinals, 4-3, marking the third straight match the Orange and Blue have upset an opponent in the 2007 NCAA Team Championships.
Georgia comes into the finals after disposing of No. 4-seeded Virginia (30-4) in the semifinals, keeping their undefeated season intact in the 4-1 victory. Overall, UGA is 4-7 in the finals heading into Tuesday's contest.
Illinois fans can follow the NCAA finals action through live scoring on the official NCAA Tournament web site at georgiadogs.com, while live video is also available on the same site. A full recap of the match will be available on fightingillini.com at the conclusion of the day's action.
ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER
Georgia has never won the title when entering the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 seed, losing in 2002 to No. 11-seeded USC (4-1) and again in 2006 to No. 2-seeded Pepperdine (4-1). Overall, the tournament's top seed is 13-9 in finals appearances and 6-6 since 1992.
In fact, the No. 1 seed is on a two-match losing streak as of late (2005-06), as No. 1-seeded Baylor fell to No. 7-seeded UCLA (4-3) in 2005, while Georgia lost in 2006.
IT'S HARD TO BE PERFECT
In the last 11 years, only two teams have finished the season with a perfect and untainted record en route to winning the NCAA crown. During that same stretch, four teams in all have entered the final match undefeated (UCLA, Stanford, Illinois, Georgia), with only two coming out unscathed.
In 1996, UCLA entered the final match 24-0 before suffering its first loss in the title match to No. 2-seeded Stanford, 4-1. In 1998, Stanford accomplished a perfect season, 28-0, followed by then No. 1 Illinois winning its first NCAA title behind a 32-0 unblemished ledger. The last team to enter the finals undefeated was Georgia (29-0) in 2006, falling to No. 2-seeded Pepperdine to earn their first loss of that season in a 4-1 upset.
Illinois has not allowed winning streaks to stand in its way of an NCAA Tournament win. In the first round, the Illini ended Western Michigan's 11-match winning streak, snapped Ohio State's 20-match winning streak in the quarters and most recently ended No. 3-seeded Baylor's 10-match winning streak in the semifinals.
Illinois next takes on its biggest task of 2007 as they try to break the most important winning streak of the year, a 31-match winning streak by the Bulldogs, the last remaining team that stands in the way of the Illini and a national title.
IN THE CLUTCH
The Illini have relied on a number of racquets to clinch a dual-match victory this season, with a total of seven netters leading the Orange and Blue to a win. Overall, Spicijaric, who plays predominantly at the No. 3 singles position as of late, leads the Fighting Illini with six match clinchers, each of them coming against some of the nation's top squads (No. 8 Duke, No. 31 Tennessee, No. 8 Florida, No. 29 Wisconsin, No. 59 Kentucky and No. 2 Ohio State).
Story,information and photo provided by the U of I press release.
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