The result of the Purdue game did not fall in favor of the Illinois basketball team last Friday.
In general, it was a tough ask for the Illini to go into West Lafayette and beat the No. 1 team in the nation shorthanded. I think by the time the second game rolls around in March, Illinois will be more cohesive, as we will have plenty of time to adjust to the new lineup.
At one point in the game on Friday, Illinois was down by 21 points against the Boilermakers in the second half. The way the game was going at the time, a 20-point loss to Purdue was going to hurt the Illini in the upcoming AP Top 25 ranking. But the Illini fought back and got the game within one score in the final moments.
This effort and toughness enabled Illinois to only slip one spot in the updated AP Top 25. Illinois went from being ranked No. 9 in the country to now heading into the new week as the No. 10 team in the nation.
Illinois basketball has some get-right winnable games coming up
While a loss to Purdue hurts because winning is never fun, it was an understandable loss. Illinois didn’t lose to a worse team at home. It was against the best team in the country on the road.
Coming up, Illinois has some good get-right games on the schedule. We still sit at No. 5 in the Big Ten standings, but after this week, we will hopefully have cracked the top four in the conference.
On Thursday, the Illini take on a struggling Michigan State program. The Spartans, which were once a top team in the country, now find themselves at 9-6 overall and coming off a 14-point loss to Northwestern. This is a game in Champaign that Illinois should be able to win.
Illinois then rounds the week out with another home game against Maryland. The Terrapins, also 9-6, have dropped back-to-back Big Ten games and have struggled this season. With this game being at home, I think the Illini should get the victory.
Winning both games this week would put Illinois at 13-3 overall and 4-1 in Big Ten play. That would keep us tied with Purdue and an arm’s length of Wisconsin, which currently holds the top spot at 3-0.