The Illinois Fighting Illini will have a crucial bubble match against the Minnesota Gophers this Thursday in the Big Ten tournament. Although both teams are likely in the NCAA tournament right now, I would not want to be the loser of the contest, resulting in sweating it out on Selection Sunday.
If Illinois can defeat the Gophers, there is no doubt that they will be in the NCAA tournament.
The Indiana Hoosiers may be the Big Ten regular season champions, but what a terrible draw they have in their first game of the tournament. Both Illinois and Minnesota beat them on the season.
The Fighting Illini split the season series against the Gophers this year, so the rubber match should make for a great game.
You would think that this team would be in the dance, considering that it beat Butler, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Indiana and Minnesota. However, if they lose to the Gophers you can bet that they will be put right back in the bubble discusion, hence why this is such a crucial matchup for this team.
If Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson are draining threes left and right they will not only beat Minnesota, but they will likely beat Indiana for the second time this season. This is a team that can beat anyone in the nation, but it has to knock down its shots to do so.
For this reason, Illinois is not only a dangerous team in the Big Ten tournament, but the NCAA tournament as well, assuming that they make it. However, it all starts with a W against Minnesota.