Illinois came up just a bit short.
Overall, it was a solid weekend for the No. 8 team in the nation, but unfortunately they ran into the buzzsaw that are the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Tournament finale.
It was a promising beginning for Illinois this weekend, as they started with a 4-0 sweep over No. 7-seed Penn State on Friday. The Illini took the first six sets in every match and never really looked back, leading to a 6-4, 6-4 Zeke Clark victory — his 11th-straight match win — to roll up the Nittany Lions and advance to face the No. 3-seed Michigan Wolverines.
Saturday came, and the Illini once again put on a show against Michigan on its way to another easy victory, 4-1. Illinois got off to a bit of a rocky start and lost the doubles point. However, they rebounded quite nicely in singles competition.
Alex Brown started it off by dominating Michigan's Myles Schalet 6-1, 6-0, and the team cruised from there, with Zeke Clark again with the match winner 7-6, 6-4.
This was how it was supposed to be. Illinois with the rematch against the only team who beat them in conference play.
Unfortunately, Ohio State is just that good this year.
It's a shame too, because any other year, and Illinois might have had a better chance.
Ohio State was just too much, however, as they rolled Illinois in the tournament final, 4-0.
There's not much to say about this match except Illinois just wasn't quite at the level the Buckeyes proved themselves to be at. They're a national title contender.
On the plus side, Illinois will be selected at some point for the NCAA tournament bracket on the selection show, which is streamed live on NCAA.com this coming Tuesday, and the Illini will await their next competitor.