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Can Illinois Basketball Win the B1G?

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Feb 11, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33) grabs a rebound in front of Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Caleb McConnell (22) during the second half at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Can Illinois Basketball Win the B1G Ten?

As of today, we are over halfway done with the Big Ten basketball season. Though the Illini unfortunately have to play 4 games within a short amount of time due to the COVID cancellation, Illinois finds itself with a window of opportunity.  Admittedly, it’s hard to pick against Purdue despite their loss against Northwestern. Additionally, Illinois sports a very short rotation which is bound to an off game. Illinois looked sluggish against Indiana at home. This is bound to happen at least one more time in the last 7 games.

A fan can dream?

Illinois basketball is currently in a tight race for second place in the conference. Despite an 0-3 start, the Illini have played exceptionally well since their awful performance against Northwestern. Brad Underwood has made outstanding adjustments which has lead the Illini to win 8 of their last 10. 1 of their losses came down to the very end in a gnarly environment on the road against Iowa. Illinois travels to Happy Valley to take on Penn State in hopes of achieving revenge after a pitiful performance against the Nittany Lions at home.

Illinois has a tough last 7 games on top of a condensed schedule. Four of their games are on the road. Three of their seven games involve Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern, both Indiana and Purdue will be on the road. They then take on 2 of the bottom teams in the conference in Minnesota and Ohio State. Michigan has struggled, however has a solid conference record.  In short, five out of seven games left on the schedule will be extremely difficult wins. Not saying this is impossible, but such is life in the Big Ten.

The Rest of the Field?

Purdue has been the dominant team of the conference. The Boilers are 12-3, and they had their “off-game” this weekend against Northwestern. Despite this, Purdue is an elite team. They have five games left on their schedule, three of those games are against middle to lower of the pack teams: Maryland, Wisconsin and Ohio State. Indiana plays a tough schedule to finish. Their easiest game on paper is their last game against Michigan. The other teams tied for second with Illinois lead a similar schedule.

Overall, Illinois has a true uphill battle to truly win the conference. To be honest, that 0-3 start to the conference season really impeded Illinois from being the true number 2 behind Purdue. Despite this, Illinois seems to be hitting their stride at the right time and have established themselves as a consistent title contender the past 3 years.

Alex is the Owner of Armchairillini.com, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is a Resident Physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Northwestern Medicine and has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS sports and more.

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