11. Illinois (14-5)
Calling this Illinois season a smooth ride would certainly be untrue. The Illini recently got star Terrence Shannon Jr. back after his suspension and have been dealing with that tumult for more than a month. On the court, the Fighting Illini look like one of the better teams in the nation, but have had their fair share of slip-ups, including the latest this past week.
Less than a month after a 30-point win over Northwestern, it was a different story in Evanston, as the Illini fell 96-91 in overtime to the Wildcats. Both Marcus Domask and Coleman Hawkins scored 22 points and the Illini made 46% of their 3-pointers, but fell out of the game in the extra period. Another close contest awaited on Saturday, but this time the Illini survived at home, winning 70-62 over Indiana. Domask had 16 points and 10 rebounds while Shannon added 12 points and 6 rebounds in the bounce back win.
Offensively, Illinois can compete with anyone in this conference, though you could certainly classify their 6-3 mark in Big Ten play as somewhat disappointing. Regardless, they’ve looked great at times this season and now have the whole rotation back in action, with Domask really emerging as a star for this team. There’s no easy nights in this league, and the Illini head to Columbus next week to face a tricky Ohio State team.