John Groce’s Illini, dropped by the media and clinging nervously to the 25th slot in the Coaches Poll, will rise or fall Tuesday night.
Villanova, the respected opponent in New York’s Madison Square Garden, is No. 7 in both basketball polls. No other nonconference opportunities compare to this.
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Illinois, which cracked the Top 25 last week for the first time this season, is out after last week's loss to Miami.
CHAMPAIGN — Just as the Illini tipped off against American here Saturday, the report from Ann Arbor reminded that, in the three-point era, no opponent should be taken lightly.
It read: New Jersey Institute of Technology 72, Michigan 70.
As a sophomore in 2004-05, Warren Carter came off the bench for Bruce Weber’s national runners-up. Now 29, Carter is playing pro basketball in France. Staff writer Bob Asmussen caught up with the Texan this week.
Can you believe it’s been 10 years?
Player of the Game: Illini Malcolm Hill
Is he a guard? Or a forward? Doesn’t really matter. He is effective. When the game turned sloppy for the Illini, the sophomore got them through it. Rayvonte Rice is rarely going to go 1 for 7 from the field. But when he does, it’s nice for John Groce to know he has Hill capable of a 6 for 10.
CHAMPAIGN — A few minutes into No. 24 Illinois’ 70-55 win against American on Saturday at State Farm Center, Illini coach John Groce looked to his bench and yelled, “Reinforcements, let’s go!”
Immediately, Kendrick Nunn, Leron Black and Jaylon Tate stripped off their warmups and headed to the scorer’s table to check in. They were soon joined by Maverick Morgan.
CHAMPAIGN — After No. 24 Illinois fell to No. 15 Miami on Tuesday in Florida, many Illinois fans expressed extreme concern that they might be in for a disappointing ride in 2014-15.