5 big questions for the Illinois basketball team against Duquesne

After a big win in the first round, the Illinois basketball team now takes on the No. 11 Duquesne Dukes with a shot at advancing to the Sweet 16.
Mar 21, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini forward Dain Dainja (42) reacts in the
Mar 21, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Dain Dainja (42) reacts in the / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Will the Illini guards overpower Duquesne?

I haven’t seen a backcourt like the one Illinois sports in quite some time. The last time there was this dynamic of a backcourt was back in 2004-05 with Deron Williams, Dee Brown, and Luther Head.

Illinois has a lot of talent and firepower in the backcourt. We can score at all levels, and if you start falling asleep, we will take it down the lane and throw it down in your face.

I want to see if the Illinois guards can take the game to Duquesne. Can the Illini guards overpower the Dukes and show that we are the better team early and often?

Duquesne’s guard size really stands out to me. While they do have experience, both Dae Dae Grant and Jimmy Clark III are seniors, their guards are a bit undersized compared to what Illinois puts on the court.

Grant and Clark stand at 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3, respectively. The Dukes then trot out 6-foot-4 freshman Jake DiMichele at the No. 3 spot. These three players are extremely talented, but they are running into long and athletic Illinois guards.

Terrence Shannon Jr. and Marcus Domask are both 6-foot-6. Illinois also has Ty Rodgers playing the No. 3 spot who stands at 6-foot-6. These three should be able to cause some problems for the Duquesne guards.

I think, offensively, Illinois’ guards should be able to overpower the Dukes as well. Illinois needs to get Shannon going downhill early and often. The physical size of Domask should be a mismatch against smaller Duquesne guards as well. Let’s use our backcourt and overpower the Dukes on Saturday.