Nonetheless, it’s now the sixth consecutive week Illinois has been ranked in the coaches poll. The home losses by now No. 15 Wisconsin and No. 14 Houston may have helped the Illini move up one spot. Either way, it does not get easier for Illinois.
What’s On Tap Next?
The orange and blue begin the week with a half-game lead over Purdue in the Big Ten standings and a tough stretch of games ahead.
The Illini will visit a scorching hot Rutgers team that has beaten Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin in their last three games. Illinois last won at The RAC in 2018 but has fared well against Rutgers overall in recent games, including a 35-point victory at the State Farm Center earlier this season. However, Geo Baker did not play in that game.
The Illini then travel to East Lansing to take on No. 19 Michigan State. Illinois has not won at Michigan State since 2015 during the John Groce era. The Spartans have been an inconsistent team most of the Big Ten season, accumulating wins at Wisconsin and at home over Michigan and Indiana, but have bad losses at the hands of Rutgers and at home against Northwestern. This is a team that won at Connecticut in the non-conference season as well.
None of it matters at the end of the day if you ask Tom Izzo. It will be a tall task for Illinois on Saturday.
The Illini have already defeated the Spartans 56-55 at home this season. It was an ugly win that saw Illinois ice cold offensively in the final minutes, similar to the victory over Northwestern on Sunday.
If Illinois wins its next two games, the Illini should find themselves in the top 10 next week. More importantly, doing so would keep them atop the Big Ten regular-season standings. It all starts on Wednesday at Rutgers on Big Ten Network.
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