No Excuse for Illinois' Loss to Northwestern, Slow Start in Big Ten Play

By Paul Seaver
Bradley Leeb-USA Today Sports

A season ago, Illinois was rolling and looking like a prime threat in the NCAA Tournament after Brandon Paul went off in a victory over Ohio State.

Fans however, are well aware of their monumental collapse late last season and now, the panic button is on once again.

Not only did Illinois lose, at home, to Northwestern, but they virtually got blown out. A 14-point victory on the road is a great win for the Wildcats, so the credit from last night deservedly goes to them. From Illinois’ perspective however, there should be no excuses.

By the numbers, Illinois is streaking south and its a trend that has similar comparisons to a season ago. The only major difference may be the timing, which in this regard could be an advantage for the Illini if they can figure things out.

Illinois is just 2-4 in their past six games, and have won only once since Dec. 29. Ironically enough, that lone win in that span was another early January victory over Ohio State. The good news in their most recent slump however may be the mere fact that the Illini have the weekend off to re-group and get ready for a date on Tuesday with Nebraska, which represents another winnable game and another opportunity to right the ship.

Poor shooting, especially from the perimeter has been the cause for concern for head coach John Groce and the Illini. A 3-for-20 performance on Thursday night was just another indication of that.

Their contest at Nebraska is a must-win situation, especially with a brutal stretch rapidly approaching. Illinois will face four ranked opponents in a five-game stretch following Tuesday’s meeting with the Cornhuskers.


Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS

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