The Illini have had quite a disappointing season, but when you look at who they have played and when to me, it seems as though they play down to their competition.
This season, against ranked teams they are 4-5 heading into tonight match-up. This includes victories over opponents like No. 19 Gonzaga (on Dec. 3), and No. 5 Ohio State (on Jan 31).
Tonight The Illini said goodbye to two important members of the basketball program. Grad Student Sam Maniscalco, Guard, transferred in to the program from Bradley and hasn’t looked back. Mid-season he was lost for a few games due to injury and coming back was slow. Usually averaging 6.5 points per game, ranking fourth in the Illini lineup, he went scoreless from Jan. 31-Feb. 15 but totaled at least 11 points in the last three games.
Another Guard, Jean Selus played his last home game for the Illini tonight. He walked on after playing two years at Parkland Junior College. He has appeared in 13 games over the two years he played for Illinois.
Getting a win tonight is crucial for Illinois, despite the fact that the NCAA tournament is practically out of reach. Knowing the team can win and the atmosphere of the Orange crush Bruce Weber was hoping to get this last home game in the books.
In this match up, Illinois does have the best record leading 85-73 against Michigan, of which 54 of those wins came in Champaign. However Michigan was able to take both of the last two meetings.
Unfortunately the Fighting Illini were unable to perform at their best and dropped the game to Michigan losing 72-61. That is the nail in the coffin for U of I as far as the NCAA Tournament goes, and maybe for Head Coach Bruce Weber.