Saturday's game against Indiana was a solid effort by the Illini. Wouldn't that have been spectacular if the team had been able to score just 5 more points in the last 4 minutes of the game? When McBride shot that three pointer after the nice dish from a driving Warren Carter, my hopes rose for a split second. But then I saw that McBride "armed" the shot, probably because he was exhausted after a super effort throughout the game. All in all, though, I was really happy with the performance and the effort. Indiana is 13-0 on their homecourt, and except for the Wisconsin and Illinois games, all of those have been easy wins. So take heart Illini fans!
Now, on to the last 4 games. We're looking at Northwestern and Michigan at home. We SHOULD win both of those games. Weber has Bill Carmody's version of the Princeton offense pretty much figured out. Michigan might be a tough game, because it's do or die for them as well. Plus, they're going to be playing extra hard, knowing that their coach's job is at stake. But Illinois should beat both of these teams, considering the home court advantage.
What about the two road games? Well, we can definitely beat Penn St. at their place. That is no gimmee game, though. Penn St. has been underachieving so far this year. But just as with all teams, they're probably going to be playing their best ball in this last part of the season. Plus, Penn St. seems to play well against our system. Witness last year's shocking upset at the Assembly Hall. So this game is going to be tough, and will likely come down to the bitter end. And Iowa will be even tougher. Both of these games are winnable. I just think they'll both be tough games.
Anyhow, 9-7 might get us in to the tourney. In fact, historically, a 9-7 conference record is a pretty good bet to get in for a Big Ten team. In this weird year, though, where the media is in love with the mid-majors, and really down on the Big Ten, then it might mean only a 10-6 record gets us in. So let's win all 4 of the remaining games just to be sure! Also, there's always the Big Ten tourney as a last hope. Remember what Syracuse did last year in the Big East tourney.