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Better Know a Regional Opponent: The Eastern Illinois University Sex Panthers

We play them Friday at 7pm CT on SEC Network

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy Photo by CBS via Getty Images

The School: Eastern Illinois University. Formerly known as The Eastern Illinois State Normal School (1899–1921). That is, presumably, before they got weird, and renamed themselves Eastern Illinois State Teachers College (1921–1947), then Eastern Illinois State College (1947–1957), until they got all fancy and went from College to University, and pretended Illinois was no longer a state.

Their first college president, Samuel M. Inglis, died before officially taking office. I assume he had a cool nickname like “The Colonel.”

Location: Charleston, Illinois (aka Not that Charleston). Charleston, IL is a small midwestern college town of about 17,000 people (which is about the number of undergrads, grad students, and faculty at EIU), best summed up in this clip:

In the “about” part of its Wikipedia page, this is written:

The city is home to Eastern Illinois University and has close ties with its neighbor, Mattoon. Both are principal cities of the Charleston–Mattoon Micropolitan Statistical Area.

That means nothing to anyone.

The Mascot: Billy the Panther. Here he is wearing a college sweater without pants.

He appears to have scoliosis, as well, but this is not in his bio.

‘23 Record: 38-19 (13-11 OVC).

How’d they get here? Like every team in this Regional, Vanderbilt included, Eastern Illinois won their conference tournament. EIU was the #5 seed, so they had to sweep through 6 games to punch their ticket, culminating in a 6-5 win over #1 seed Morehead State.

Best win: Besides the entire OVC tourney, they beat Illinois 1-0 in an April mid-week game (which is not exactly a big win). They did take one of three from Arky back in late February, as well. Other than that, they didn’t play anyone.

Worst loss: EIU was swept by the SIUE Cougars in early April, which is apparently a school with a baseball team.

Player to Watch: #7 Sr. UTL Ryan “Il Ignoffo” Ignoffo—*listen, I’m not being lazy here... his name sounds like an Italian Superhero whose super power is ignorance—(.336/.435/.603 with 12 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 59 RBI, and 29-31 steals). Il Ignoffo is their best power bat, and also their best base running threat. He’s not their only base running threat, of course, as the Sex Panthers love to run. They’ve got another guy, Logan “The Runner” Eickhoff, with 25 steals, and another, named (and I shit you not) Lincoln Riley, has 18.

Anchor of Gold Tiger Beat Hottest Pitcher: #38 Sr. RHP Zane “Tony” Robbins (4-1; 1.38 ERA; 13.8 K/9). He’s not just a pitcher; he has the power of positive thinking.

Best NCAA Tournament result: Eastern Illinois University was the College World Series runner up in 1981. So... if their parents were in our Region, watch out.

Should Vanderbilt be scared? No.