Illinois jumped on Indiana early and never allowed the Hoosiers to seriously threaten in a 72-48 loss in Champaign. The Illini dominated the first half, and IU's offense was stagnant for the entire game. IU finished with 31 percent shooting form the floor and only 3-17 from three point range. This is a game in which the statistics don't truly tell the story. On the surface, IU's defensive performance doesn't look that bad, but that is only because the Illini took their foot off the gas for much of the second half. Illinois scored only 26 points in the second half (better than IU's 21, of course), but that's a luxury that 46 points in the first half will allow. Once again, the Hoosiers looked lost on defense, and as has often been the case on the road, could not generate much offense. I'm guessing that this is the team that Illini fans expected to see all year, but as it turned out, Illinois needed yesterday's win to break even in the Big Ten.
The loss guaranteed IU the #11 seed in the Big Ten Tournament (even if IU had won, Iowa's upset of Purdue would have sent IU to the 11 slot anyway). My understanding, based on what I have read/heard rather than my own analysis, is that if Penn State wins at Minnesota today, then IU will play Penn State. If Penn State loses at the Barn, then IU will play Michigan State. As Terry Hutchens points out, those are the two teams that IU played only once each during the regular season. I can't say that any matchup excites me. Penn State has shooters, particularly Talor Battle, and IU's horrible perimeter defense makes it easy to imagine an offensive explosion. Michigan State, on the other hand, much like Illinois, is an underachieving team that would like nothing more than to work out a season's worth of frustrations against the Hoosiers.
Well, this grim spectacle is almost over. Stay tuned this week for some regular season wrap-up posts and other content.