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Illinois v Purdue
Illinois v Purdue / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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12. Illinois (11-3)

The current story for the Fighting Illini is an unfortunate one, but it’s the reality of the situation. Star Terrence Shannon Jr. is indefinitely suspended and likely won’t be on the court again this season. While this removal from their roster may seem like a death knell, Illinois hasn’t exactly shown that they’re about to roll over and give up on the season.

Playing their second game without Shannon, the Fighting Illini welcomed rival Northwestern to town on Tuesday night and sent them packing in a 96-66 victory. Illinois had another outstanding offensive performance, led by 32 points from Marcus Domask. Things were significantly tougher on Friday, as the Illini fell 83-78 at Purdue in a game they trailed at times by more than 20 but fought back several times. Domask starred again, this time with 26 points, while Quincy Guerrier added 18 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

Even without their star, the Illini show no signs of letting up, with other players on this roster stepping up in Shannon’s absence. No matter how you look at the situation, this Illinois team is better when Shannon is out there, but they’ve certainly proven they aren’t dead without him. The coming weeks will tell us even more about their talent and resolve, continuing next Thursday with a big home date against Michigan State.