5 massive questions for the Illinois basketball team against UConn

The Elite 8 is here, and the Illinois basketball team is taking on what most people think is the best team in college basketball in the UConn Huskies.

Mar 28, 2024; Boston, MA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Luke Goode (10) reacts after a basket
Mar 28, 2024; Boston, MA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Luke Goode (10) reacts after a basket / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Will the Illini get to the free throw line?

Speaking of the free throw line, Illinois has developed a great bond with this area of the court. I would reckon that we are best friends forever with the charity stripe.

Sometimes, best friends get into fights, though. We fought with the free throw line against Iowa State. Illinois went to the free throw line a lot against the Cyclones, but we were only able to covert 15-of-29, 51.7%, in the close win.

UConn is not going to let us get to the charity stripe easily. So, will the Illini be able to get to the free throw line and convert on these important points?

For the season, Illinois is shooting 23.9 free throws per game and converting them at a clip of 73.6%. Both of those numbers are solid. If Illinois can hit those averages against the Huskies, we very well could be going to the Final 4.

But UConn is not going to let us off that easy. They are going to do everything possible to limit Terrence Shannon Jr. from going off, which includes getting into the lane and drawing contact. But, surprisingly, the Huskies aren’t great at stopping teams from getting to the charity stripe.

This season, UConn is allowing opponents to shoot 18.0 free throws per game, which ranks No. 132 in the country. So, there is an opening here for the Illini.

I think aggression is going to be the name of the game on Saturday. Illinois can’t settle for three-point attempts or UConn is going to feast. We need to take it at the basket and get to the free throw line. Not only will we get free shots, but there is a chance we can get Donovon Clingan in foul trouble. That would be optimal.