Feb 10, 2013, 8:39 PM EST
What Illinois managed to do in the aftermath of their win over No. 1 Indiana on Thursday night was going to reveal an awful lot about John Groce’s team and prospects for the remainder of the season.
After the Fighting Illini’s 57-53 win at No. 18 Minnesota on Sunday night, it’s safe to say that this group has turned a corner in regards to both defense and toughness. And that has Illinois headed in the right direction when it comes to earning a bid to the NCAA tournament.
Illinois got off to a cold start from the field, going more than nine minutes without a made field goal to start the game. But unlike the majority of their games to start Big Ten play the Illini defended, which allowed them to remain within striking distance against a Golden Gopher team that was without senior forward Rodney Williams (shoulder).
Minnesota shot just 38% for the game and committed 13 turnovers, and the combination of those issues and Illinois hitting 11 three-pointers led to the Illini leaving Williams Arena with the win.
Tyler Griffey, the hero on Thursday night, scored 16 points to lead Illinois with D.J. Richardson (13 points) and Brandon Paul (ten) also reaching double figures. Trevor Mbakwe led the Golden Gophers with 13 points and ten rebounds.
The win pulls Illinois to within a game of Minnesota and Purdue, who are tied for sixth in the Big Ten at 5-6, and the Illini host the Boilermakers on Wednesday. That game begins a stretch of seven games to end the regular season, and outside of trips to No. 3 Michigan and No. 10 Ohio State the Illini will be favored in each of those contests.
Placing Illinois in the role of “favorite” shouldn’t be as troublesome after their last two performances, with Groce’s team showing both a stronger commitment to the defensive end of the floor and a tougher mindset.
If Illinois continues to develop in those areas they’ll find themselves in the NCAA tournament.
Dec 4, 2013, 4:01 PM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: North Carolina at No. 1 Michigan State, 9:00 p.m. ET So which North Carolina team shows up tonight? Will it be the one that beat Louisville handily at Mohegan Sun earlier this season, or is it the group that lost to Belmont at home and UAB on the road? The Tar…
Dec 4, 2013, 2:54 PM EST
DURHAM, N.C. — The story of No. 10 Duke’s 79-69 win over No. 22 Michigan on Tuesday night was some combination of the Blue Devils’ defensive prowess and the Wolverine’s offensive struggles. Whether you believe that Michigan’s horrendous night, which saw them score 50 points and shoot 39.1% from the floor in the first 38…
Dec 4, 2013, 12:53 PM EST
On Tuesday night, Duke knocked off Michigan at Cameron Indoor Stadium, which was big news for both the Blue Devils, who had been struggling defensively for much of the first month of the season, and the Wolverines, who have never looked this bad offensively in the John Beilein era. It was bigger news for Coach…
Dec 4, 2013, 12:34 PM EST
The Julius Nyang’oro case took another turn this week, as the former UNC African-American Studies professor was indicted by a grand jury in North Carolina. He’s facing a charge of obtaining property through false pretenses, a low-level felony with a maximum punishment of 30 months in prison, although according to the Raleigh News & Observer,…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:51 AM EST
Who is the best shooter in the country? It’s a tough question to answer, isn’t it? Does being a “shooter” simply mean merely being a high-level marksman from beyond the arc? Can a player who thrives in the mid-range but rarely ventures out into three-point land be eligible? How heavily should we be valuing stats like…
Dec 4, 2013, 11:46 AM EST
Tuesday was a big night for Stetson’s basketball program. Not only did the Hatters pick up their first win of 2013, but Kentwan Smith made became Stetson’s first player to make it to POSTERIZED. Alley-oops off of a set play are the best, aren’t they? (h/t Dan Forcella)
Dec 4, 2013, 1:50 AM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: Boise State 69, Utah 67 Lost in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge hype was the battle between Mountain West and Pac-12 programs. The Broncos and Utes entered as two of the time scoring teams in the nation, but both struggled from the field early. Derrick Marks had 17 points and Anthony Drmic added…
Dec 4, 2013, 1:01 AM EST
It took until the later stages of the second half, but No. 18 UCLA remained undefeated following a 89-76 win tover UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday night at Pauley Pavilion. The game was much closer than the final score, as one of the contenders in the Big West gave the Bruins a fight throughout. The Gauchos…
Dec 3, 2013, 11:43 PM EST
The Big Ten got its first win in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge from Iowa’s offensive firepower. The Hawkeyes, playing in front of a raucous crowd, held off a Notre Dame second half comeback, countering the rally and holding off the Fighting Irish in a 98-93 win on Tuesday night. The Irish posted 43 points in…
Dec 3, 2013, 11:26 PM EST
DURHAM, N.C. — Caris LeVert is a good basketball player. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that there aren’t five players in college basketball that are more improved than No. 22 Michigan’s 6-foot-6 sophomore, and nothing about the 24 points he had against No. 10 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Tuesday…
Dec 3, 2013, 9:51 PM EST
The second half of Tuesday night looked a lot like last March’s Sweet Sixteen game when the Syracuse zone defense caused problems for the Indiana offense. The Hoosiers tied the game early in the second half before falling into a 13-minute drought. During which the Orange broke open the game, claiming the first game in their…
Dec 3, 2013, 8:13 PM EST
Troy Williams had four points in the first half of Indiana’s ACC-Big Ten Challenge contest against No. 4 Syracuse. The first two points were off an uncontested breakaway dunk after he intercepted a Tyler Ennis pass. This was his second bucket of the evening, and as you can see there were a few bodies in…
Dec 3, 2013, 7:15 PM EST
Michigan State sophomore guard Gary Harris injured his ankle in late August, though, that force him to miss any regular season games. That was until Friday during the top-ranked Spartans’ 98-65 win over Mount St. Mary’s Tom Izzo sidelined his reigning Big Ten freshmen of the year for the entire weekend, not just the 33-point…
Dec 3, 2013, 6:13 PM EST
Conference play is still weeks away. The ACC should have another exciting season with three new program’s joining the conference. Despite the changes in the league, one thing has remained the same for ACC competition for years: How do you spell Coach K’s last name? North Carolina’s Brice Johnson, Notre Dame’s Eric Atkins, Virginia’s Joe Harris,…
Dec 3, 2013, 5:03 PM EST
Former Arizona head coach and Hall of Famer Lute Olson has formally joined the group of coaches who have expressed their displeasure with the new rule changes this season in college basketball. Hand-checking rules were changed this season to allow more player movement, which in return has increased scoring something that was down from a…
Dec 3, 2013, 3:51 PM EST
The Florida roster took another hit Tuesday afternoon, after it was announced that senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin will be out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain he suffered in Monday night’s heartbreaking road loss to UConn. Wilbekin scored 15 points and grabbed three boards to go along with a pair of assists and turnovers,…
Dec 3, 2013, 2:42 PM EST
GAME OF THE DAY: No. 22 Michigan at No. 10 Duke, 9:15 p.m. ET The highlight of tonight’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge slate was supposed to pit two top ten teams against each other. Instead, both the Blue Devils and the Wolverines head into Tuesday night’s matchup with a pair of losses. Duke has been beaten…
Dec 3, 2013, 1:45 PM EST
Florida’s back court question marks have become a major, major problem. Kasey Hill is out with an ankle injury. Eli Carter will reportedly be redshirting this season. Scottie Wilbekin missed the final five minutes of last night’s game after injuring his ankle. It’s unclear how long Hill and Wilbekin will be out of commission. That…
Dec 3, 2013, 12:45 PM EST
The field for the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis has been revealed, and it is absolutely stacked. The eight teams: Florida, North Carolina, UCLA, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Butler, Oklahoma and UAB. There is a rule in place that prohibits two teams from the same conference from being in these early season tournaments. Butler and Georgetown are both members…
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