Last year, the Illinois basketball fan base could look back and see the games they lost that they should have won. Rutgers and Winthrop immediately come to mind. They also had nice opportunities against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament and Maryland at home. Some of these games can provide a boost in morale or completely deflate a team. What games on this year’s schedule do the Illini have to win to go dancing in March?
Southern (H), Tennessee-Martin (H), Marshall (H), Augustana (H), North Carolina Central (H), Austin Peay (H), Longwood (H), Grand Canyon (H), Nebraska (H), and Rutgers (H and A).
These kind of go without saying, but the Illini have to win all of these games listed to put themselves in a good spot with the selection committee.
2. Trap Games
DePaul (H), Wake Forest (A), UNLV (A), New Mexico State (Chi.), Iowa (H), Nebraska (A), and Penn State (H).
These games are all games that Illinois could and maybe should win, but I can see them losing. All of these would be nice wins to have in March, and I would like to see as many of these count as victories at the end of the season.
3. Games You Shouldn’t Win (Or will likely be projected to lose)
Missouri (St. Louis), Michigan (A), Wisconsin (A), Michigan State (H), Indiana (H), Wisconsin (H), Indiana (A), Michigan State (A) Purdue (H).
These games are ones that the Illini may be the underdogs in. If they could somehow come away with Ws from a couple of these, they would have a nice resume in March.
4. 50-50 Games
Northwestern (A), Maryland (H), Minnesota (A), Ohio State (A).
These games are toss-ups for me. I have no clue how these will turn out, but if the Illini can go 2-2 in these games, I’d be satisfied.
Overall Regular Season Prediction: 21-9
Final Prediction With BTT: 22-10
Tournament: HECK YES
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