Despite Upset Win Over No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers, Illinois Fighting Illini Have A Lot of Work to Do

By Brian Lester
Bradley Leeb – USA TODAY Sports Images

Illinois has every reason to be excited about its signature win of the season on Thursday night.

Beating top-ranked Indiana is a big deal, and the Fighting Illini, who have been more like the struggling Illini as of late, have every reason to be thrilled about a riveting 74-72 win over the Hoosiers.

Tyler Griffey, perhaps the most unlikely candidate to take a clutch shot in a big-time moment, made a game-winning layup with barely a breath of time left on the clock and gave Illinois the kind of win that could very well save its season.

Illinois put together an impressive rally to win the game, overcoming a 69-59 deficit against the best team in the country. It won with a sound defensive effort, scoring 28 points off turnovers.

But as exciting and impressive as the win is, and despite the confidence boost that it can provide, here is what people need to keep in mind.

It’s one game. It doesn’t instantly make you a worthy NCAA tournament team.

The Fighting Illini still have to play at Minnesota, at Michigan, at Iowa and at Ohio State. Even the road game against Northwestern isn’t going to be easy.

Without question, Illinois has had some impressive wins this year. It beat Butler, it won at Gonzaga and it has a big win over Ohio State.

But the teams that steal road wins are the most successful teams in college basketball, and if Illinois wants this win over the Hoosiers to boost its chances of making the NCAA tournament, it better find a way to win a couple of road games down the stretch.

Otherwise, NCAA becomes NIT for the Fighting Illini.

Brian Lester is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993.

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