No. 9 Illinois Fighting Illini (11-2) at No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers (13-1), Friday, January 5, 8:30 PM ET, FS1
The Big Ten battle between No. 9 Illinois and No. 1 Purdue on Friday night last some luster last week when the Illini's All-American candidate Terrence Shannon, Jr. was suspended for off-the-court allegations. The game is still very important for both teams even this early on in league play. For Illinois, their schedule is manageable after this game with Purdue, they don't face another team currently ranked in the top 25 until March 2nd. Despite missing Shannon, the Illini is still one of the better teams in the conference, and here's an opportunity to show it. For the Boilermakers, they're in a constant battle to stay on the top seed line, and as Arizona proved last weekend that hold can be tenuous in the midst of league play.
Illinois is now 11-2 in Big Ten action after their home win over Northwestern on Tuesday, the same Northwestern team that knocked off Purdue in their Big Ten opener. This is a big game for Illinois when it comes to their resume because the only quad 1 win in their pocket right now is a neutral-site win over FAU. The rest of the Illini’s resume is light with only one other win in the first two quads, so a road win over the No. 1 team in the country would boost things for them.
Purdue has four quad 1 wins in their portfolio and a win over Illinois would give them another, further solidifying their hold on the No. 1 seed in the committee’s eyes. The Boilermakers are looking at the Virginia blueprint of losing to a No. 16 seed one year and then marching to the national title the next. They have the team that can do it but need to win games like this to remain the best team in the country and the No. 1 overall seed.