Busting Brackets

March Madness: Power ranking the Sweet 16 teams left in 2024 NCAA Tournament

Gonzaga v Kansas
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7. Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois isn’t as extreme as Alabama when it comes to the offense/defense splits but that is a concern with them as a Final Four threat. We saw that in the first round against Morehead State, who was tied with the Fighting Illini at 48 apiece with over 14 minutes to go.

In the end, Illinois ran away to avoid the upset, winning 85-69. Terrence Shannon Jr. led the team with 26 points, while Dain Dainja had 21 points off the bench on a perfect 9/9 shooting. The real star was Marcus Domask, who had the first triple-double in the NCAA Tournament in several years.

The Illini’s offense remained in high gear against Duquesne in the Round of 32 and more importantly, the defense dominated. It was a blowout from start to finish, with the Big Ten program winning 89-63. Shannon led the team with 30 points, while Domask went for 22.

Illinois's potent offense will be tested against its next opponent, Iowa State. The Cyclones have one of the best defenses in all of NCAA Basketball and might be the best the Illini have faced all season. If they can get past them, the Illini can beat anyone.