12. Illinois Fighting Illini – 7-2 (1-0)
The Illini had one of the tougher weeks of any top-25 NCAA Basketball team, having to deal with two top-tier programs playing at a high level. First up was Florida Atlantic in the Jimmy V Classic, a game that ended up being a high-scoring affair from start to finish.
Illinois was able to benefit from the Owls’ big man fouling out to make a late run and get a 98-89 victory in Madison Square Garden. Terrence Shannon Jr. had another big game, going for 33 pts on 10/14 shooting from the field. But just as good was Marcus Domask, who also went for 33 pts in a season-high effort. The Southern Illinois transfer was an efficient 15/21 from the field, doing most of his work inside.
The next game was against Tennessee in a battle of top-25 teams. The Vols got off to a hot start, but thanks to some hot shooting, Illinois stayed in the game. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get enough stops, falling 86-79 in the end. Shannon had 22 pts in another good offensive game, while Quincy Guerrier had 22 as well.
Illinois should be okay taking a 1-1 split on the week, keeping them in the top 25. They’re off for the next eight days before taking on Colgate at home on Sunday. Don’t overall the Raiders, as they’re capable of giving power conference teams fits.