13. Illinois (17-6)
It’s been a pretty good season in Champaign but it’s also been a wild ride. The Illini have won some great games, lost some disappointing ones, and have endured quite the controversy with Terrence Shannon Jr.’s suspension. Regardless, the Fighting Illini sit near the very top of the Big Ten standings and have looked the part of a contender, but how would they fare in a hostile environment this past week?
Way back on Sunday, Illinois survived an upstart Nebraska squad at home, clinging to an 87-84 win in overtime. Coleman Hawkins scored 20 while Marcus Domask added 19 points in the tight home win over the Cornhuskers. This weekend went less smoothly, as the Illini fell out of the game late at Michigan State, falling 88-80 to the Spartans. Despite the loss, Shannon was brilliant with 28 points in his best performance since returning from suspension.
The tough loss in East Lansing ends a recent three-game winning streak but keeps the Illini near the top of the league standings. Illinois has had a few tough outings but have looked like one of the most complete teams in this conference. Despite Saturday’s defeat, they’ve put themselves in great place for the coming weeks. They welcome Michigan to town on Tuesday before a revenge match at Maryland next weekend.