11. Illinois (13-4)
It has truly been a roller coaster for the Fighting Illini this season and the drama never seems to cease. They’ve played nearly a month without suspended star Terrence Shannon Jr., including the two games we’re about to detail from this past week, but now they just might be getting him back. Illinois showed something in those games without Shannon, though there was certainly good and bad at the same time.
Illinois’s first real shot of trouble without Shannon came on Sunday, as a disappointing second half performance became a 76-67 home loss to Maryland. Marcus Domask starred with 26 points but the Illini were outdone by the stars on the Terrapins. Things were better later in the week, as Illinois scored an 88-73 road win against Michigan, with four different starters scoring at least 15 points in what might be their last game without Shannon, featuring double-doubles from Quincy Guerrier and Coleman Hawkins.
Some great performances and a few tough pills to swallow; that’s what life has been like without their star in the lineup. Many expected that would be it for Shannon’s basketball career, but now he may return, rejoining an Illinois lineup that have proven that they can hang with anyone in the Big Ten. What the future holds for this group is uncertain, but the coming days feature challenges against Rutgers, Northwestern, and Indiana.