5 key questions for the Illinois basketball team against Purdue

It is a matchup between two Big Ten titans, as the Illinois basketball team looks to move up the national rankings against the Purdue Boilermakers on Tuesday night.
Jan 27, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini forward Dain Dainja (42) dunks
Jan 27, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Dain Dainja (42) dunks / Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Will Terrence Shannon Jr. get Illinois over the hump?

I mentioned the last two contests in the first slide. The first game had Illinois at full force last season, and we almost snagged a huge comeback win.

Back in January, Illinois nearly came out victorious once again, but this time around, we weren’t at full force. This was the third game of the six-game suspension for Terrence Shannon Jr. While he still awaits his preliminary hearing on a charge of rape, Shannon was reinstated back with the team after the six games.

This time around should be different. How much of a difference will Terrence Shannon Jr. make? Will he get us over the hump?

In the Illinois loss a couple of months ago, Shannon didn’t play but we had some big contributors. Luke Goode got the start when Shannon was suspended, and he put up 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the floor and 4-of-8 from three-point range. This was one of Goode’s best games for the Illini.

Goode has since been sent back to the bench and now gets a fraction of the minutes he was receiving during the Shannon suspension. Shannon, on the other hand, has been playing some incredible basketball of late.

Shannon has scored double-digit points in every game he has played this season. He has seven 20-point games in the last nine contests, and two of those games were 30-point outings. Shannon’s play has been amazing to watch this season.

In the game last season, Shannon only shot the ball seven times in 33 minutes. There was more of a timeshare with the ball back then. This is Shannon’s team now, and I fully expect bulldog mode on Tuesday night. I think he has the ability to put Illinois over the top against Purdue.