2. Can Illinois win ugly again?
There was so much that was unusual on Tuesday night. Marcus Domask going off for 33 points was the biggest eye-opener, but Illinois scoring 98 points against the No. 11 team in the nation also blew me away.
Illinois hasn’t been a scoring juggernaut this season. We have struggled at times to put the ball in the hoop. Even against the cupcake games like Western Illinois and Southern, Illinois failed to hit 90 points. So, seeing a 90-spot against a top-15 program was shocking.
I don’t think this is going to be the new normal, though. That is why I am curious to see if Illinois can win ugly again. Most games this season haven’t been pretty on offense, but the Illini defense has been able to get down and dirty and win games for the program.
Illinois’ defense has been the backbone for success in 2023-24. No matter what we are doing offensively, the Illini defense comes through in every game. We are only giving up 62.4 points per game this season, which ranks No. 16 in the country.
Saturday is going to be a tough game, though. While Illinois is great defensively, so are the Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols are currently giving up 66.9 points per game, which ranks No. 73 in the country.
My guess is that this game is going to be ugly offensively. We probably won’t see an 80-spot, let alone 90 points, by either team.
When it comes down to it, can Illinois win ugly again? I believe we can. I think this is a good matchup for the Illini, as both teams are guard-heavy and all of the guards are long. The two teams seem to mirror each other. This will be an exciting matchup, but if you are looking for offensive sparks, you should probably look elsewhere.