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Survive and Advance

The Illini came alive in OT and now face the Hawkeyes.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Northwestern vs Illinois David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois got the outcome it wanted — just not in the way Brad Underwood would’ve liked.

But what matters most is that Illinois’ season didn’t end late on a Wednesday night at the hands of the las-place Northwestern Wildcats, who were playing without their best player. Instead, the Illini have a chance to continue their tournament run against the Iowa Hawkeyes tonight.

They do have a lot to clean up if they want to beat Iowa and play on. Brad Underwood also played some unusual lineups early in the game, and that must stop going forward. Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Trent Frazier and Andres Feliz played outstanding basketball against Northwestern, but they need considerable help from their teammates.

This type of effort from Andres Feliz is outstanding:

Most notably, Ayo Dosunmu must snap out of his funk and play the way he did earlier in the season.

Something is also wrong with the defense, as the Illini were simply unable to generate many turnovers against a team that was ripe for takeaways. When Underwood’s signature defense is not taking the ball away, then we see a lot of the same deficiencies that we saw earlier in the non-conference portion of the schedule.

Now is the time to put all of the pieces together, and start playing again like we did against Michigan State, Ohio State and Maryland. To quote the Big Ten: “EVERYONE HAS A SHOT.” Let’s prove them right.

And move on to Michigan on Friday.

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