5 big observations from the Illinois basketball win over Iowa

It wasn't an easy road to the win, but the Illinois basketball team managed to pull together to protect homecourt.
Iowa v Illinois
Iowa v Illinois / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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5. The switch worked for Illinois today

I love Illinois and will always support this team through thick and thin. But I will be the first to say, they play a style of basketball that drives me insane.

There are so many ups and downs throughout an Illinois game. We look like a team that can win a national championship at one point, and then minutes later, we look like a team that doesn’t belong in the NCAA tournament.

The game against Iowa on Saturday is no exception. Illinois had moments where I thought this team was back. We are going to win out and be dominant. They woke up after the ugly loss.

Literally, a television timeout late, I am thinking to myself, what the heck is going on? Where is the ball movement I saw moments ago? Where is the hustle and team chemistry?

Most games are like this for the Illini, and that is why we play most teams close regardless of record. Against Penn State, Illinois played this way and when it was coming down to crunch time, we needed to flip the switch.

That switch wasn’t found, though. Illinois can flip that switch and take over a game. Someone steps up, usually Terrence Shannon Jr., and gets to the free throw line or hits a big bucket. The Illini played with fire against the Nittany Lions, and we ended up getting burnt.

Iowa was a different story. Once again, we were up and down throughout the game. When crunch time happened, the lights came on and we found the switch.

Illinois and Iowa were tied at 75-75 with under six minutes to go in the game. That is when a few big buckets started to snowball into momentum. Marcus Domask hit a three-pointer and Justin Harmon followed with a bucket. The momentum from those shots helped propel Illinois to a 10-point win over the Hawkeyes.

My fear is that the switch won’t be able to be flipped in the NCAA tournament. Is Illinois going to play with fire on a neutral court and come out with a win? That flip is easy to find at home, but can we do it when it really counts? That is a big question that will be answered in the coming four weeks.

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