Early Gut Check

chief_logoThe Fighting Illini basketball team have almost no margin for error.  We’ve seen that the last two games.  With Rayvonte Rice nursing an injury and far from himself, Illinois managed to drop two they should have won – two games they needed to win against Northwestern and Purdue.  Most likely, those two losses have sunk any NCAA tourney aspirations.

So now Michigan State comes to town, looking like the top team in the conference (7:00, BTN).  They’re very tough as usual, but they too, have some injuries.  It’s a home game, and Coach Groce says Rice is nearly 100%, so we’re saying there’s a chance…  And the Illini better take it.  Road games against good teams are on the horizon.

To beat the Spartans, a couple of things need to happen:  Ray Rice needs to be himself again and drop in about 20 or so.  Tracy Abrams needs a strong game offensively and he must avoid turnovers at key points.  Egwu needs to snap out of it and provide something on offense (which means he has to play and avoid foul trouble).  And someone – Ekey, Hill, Nunn, Bertrand – needs to hit some timely 3s.  As we said – little to no margin for error.  Steal a win and keep those slim post-season hopes afloat.

We admit it’s a lot to ask.  We realize it’s unlikely.  All the same – go Illini!