MJ: Illinois-Indiana breakdown
Entering Sunday, the final day of the conference season, Illinois was still in play for the No. 7 seed and the No. 9 seed in the Big Ten tournament. Thanks to Minnesota’s comfortable home win against Penn State, the Illini will be seeded ninth in the conference tournament, facing eighth-seeded Indiana on Thursday at 11 a.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
It’s the rubber match of the season series, each team winning on its home court. The Hoosiers (17-14, 7-11) limp into the tournament, losing two straight and three of the last five. Indiana played two games down the stretch without Noah Vonleh, the likely Big Ten Freshman of the Year, who was battling injury.
Illinois (18-13, 7-11) is playing its best basketball of the season, having won four of its last five, including wins on the road against Minnesota, Michigan State and Iowa.
“There’s no guarantees for anybody when you go to Indianapolis,” Illinois coach John Groce said. “You want to have momentum and you want to be playing well, and I think we’ve done some pretty good things and I think our guys are starting to figure some things out. I do think that we’ve got some momentum and I do think we’re playing the best that we’ve played all year. Our body of work over the last two to three weeks indicates that.”
Indiana, the top seed in last season’s Big Ten tournament at the United Center in Chicago, knocked off the Illini in last year’s Big Ten quarterfinal. Illinois is 5-2 all time in the Big Ten tournament against the Hoosiers and is 4-1 all time in opening-round games of the tournament.