Hanging in the balance
Illinois needs a sweep this week — vs. Purdue and at Nebraska — to stay on the favorable side of the NCAA tournament bubble. Here are the regular season games in the Bruce Weber era that had the biggest impact on the Illini's postseason status:
Illinois 51, Indiana 49
Feb. 3, 2004
Road win against chief rival — the Illini and Weber's — catapulted UI to Big Ten title and eventual No. 5 seed in NCAA tournament.
No. 5 Illinois 91, No. 1 Wake Forest 73
Dec. 1, 2004
The Hall was rockin' as Illini announced their status as a player for No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament with blowout of Chris Paul & Co.
No. 6 Illinois 66, Wisconsin 51
Jan. 31, 2006
But second straight win at Kohl Center still wasn't enough to keep Illini from earning a puzzling No. 4 seed — way out in San Diego.
Illinois 75, Bradley 71
Nov. 25, 2006
UI's postseason resumes in 2006-07 and 2009-10 were similar — except the '06-07 bunch didn't suffer bad losses and squeaked into NCAA tourney.
Tennessee State 60, Illinois 58
Dec. 30, 2007
Where to start? Forgettable 16-19 season littered with damning losses, starting with one that foreshadowed a gloomy Big Ten season.
Illinois 69, Vanderbilt 63
Nov. 20, 2008
Confidence-building win seemed bigger at the time; Vanderbilt ultimately missed all tournaments, while UI earned No. 5 seed in NCAAs.
Minnesota 62, Illinois 60
Feb. 27, 2010
Michael Jordan was in the house for watershed defeat; Gophers advanced to NCAA tournament, while Illini went to Stony Brook for NIT.
Illinois-Chicago 57, Illinois 54
Dec. 18, 2010
Beat the UICs and Indianas on the schedule and Illini aren't relegated to No. 9 seed and Round of 32 matchup against No. 1 Kansas.
Illinois vs. Purdue
Win final four home games and 9-9 record would earn NCAA berth; Lose one, this season — and Weber era — likely ends in NIT