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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4. Does Illinois continue to play smart basketball?

I was extremely pleased with what I saw out of Illinois on Thursday. This was one of the best games I think we have played in a while, and that includes the run to the Big Ten Tournament crown.

Illinois looked good offensively. We came out in the second half and actually played some defense. And on top of all of that, I believe we played some smart basketball.

Can Illinois have a repeat of the great game they played against Morehead State? Can we continue to play the smart basketball as we did on Thursday?

The efficiency Illinois brought to the court was fun to watch. We took care of the basketball, which can’t always be said of this team. In the game against Morehead State, Illinois had nine total turnovers. That is below our season average of 10.7 turnovers per game.

I would argue the area that impressed me the most about Illinois’ game on Thursday was not having careless fouls. When upsets occur in the NCAA tournament, the better seed usually gets into foul trouble. Illinois avoided that speed bump.

The Illini finished with a total of nine fouls against Morehead State. No one on the team had more than two fouls, which means we didn’t have to sit anyone due to foul trouble. Having our entire roster full-go throughout the entire game is huge.

Fewer fouls also mean fewer free throw attempts for the Eagles. Morehead State only attempted eight free throws for the game.

If Illinois can continue playing smart basketball, we are going to be really tough to beat. I was impressed by the display on Thursday.