How about the larger question of who’s got a shot at the Big Ten? Believe it or not, the Fighting Zooks have a chance at taking home the Big Ten regular season title. At 9-3, they’re tied atop the conference and have the tie breaker against a Michigan State team they don’t play for the remainder of the season. It’s highly unlikely that Illinois runs the table with difficult games at Purdue and at Ohio State. Probably would have said the same thing before Tuesday at Wisconsin.
Weber’s kids don’t really have a standout category other than they’re decent in offensive turnover percentage (33rd). They only have one standout player in Demetri McCamey, but down the stretch he’s damaging, only shooting 71% from the foul line. He got hot in the MSU game with 22 and 11 assists. Even in the Kohl Center where no one in the Big Ten can win. But if he doesn’t get shots like against Northwestern on the road or goes cold like an early upset game against Bradley, Illinois falters.
At this point, Illinois is probably on track for a four or five seed; places they’ve lost in the first weekend before. I’d still take MSU or Purdue with more confidence than the Illini. Sparty has a tough trip to West Lafayette in late February and not having Kalin Lucas is sending Izzo’s team into a slump. The real sleeper come NCAA tournament time is probably the Buckeyes with POY candidate Evan Turner.
With Illinois’ current run and Minnesota still alive for a 20 win season, the Big Ten is likely to see five tournament teams and a chance for six. Iowa’s hope to not be the Big Ten basement dweller is still intact. Thanks Penn St. Again.