Grades are in: Shannon dominates ... again

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Player of the game

Illinois guard Terrence Shannon Jr.

Turns out the Atlantic-10 must not have anybody like Shannon. Maybe not even the barest comparison. Because Duquesne, like most teams that have run into Illinois this season, came the stark realization that there's basically nothing to do when Shannon is attacking the basket and hitting from three-point range in equal measure. Play him tight on the perimeter, and his first step will torch you heading to the rim. Play off beyond the arc, and he'll spot up for a feathery soft lefty three. The result in Saturday night's second-round NCAA tournament showdown with the Dukes? A 30-point game — his seventh of the season — on 10 of 14 shooting, including a 2 of 5 mark from three-point range.


Duquesne: C-

Illinois is tough to beat when Shannon and Marcus Domask are both dialed in offensively. Domask filled a complementary role against Duquesne, putting up 22 points and seven assists in full-on point guard mode. The efficiency of the two, however, stands out in the blowout, as they shot a combined 63 percent. The guard-dominant Dukes got 14 points from Jimmy Clark III, but leading scorer Dae Dae Grant was mostly a non-factor.


Illinois: A

Duquesne: C-

Coleman Hawkins knocking down three-pointers, Quincy Guerrier being assertive on the glass and Dain Dainja continuing not to miss shots is quite the trifecta for Illinois. A combination that Duquesne also didn't have an answer for Saturday night in Omaha, Neb. The most the Dukes could counter with was 13 points from Fousseyni Drame, who couldn't work some of his Saint Peter's magic (he was on the Peacocks' Elite Eight team in 2022) against the Illini.


Illinois: B

Duquesne: B

When Shannon, Domask and Hawkins are all clicking, the Illinois bench doesn't have to do as much (and isn't asked to). Illini coach Brad Underwood pulled the bulk of his starters with just more than three minutes to play, and let the bench crew finish it out. Dainja, of course, still hasn't missed a shot in six halves after going 4 of 4 against Duquesne to finish with eight points and five rebounds. Duquesne won the bench points battle, though, with six points apiece from Halil Barre and Matus Hronsky.


Illinois: A

Duquesne: C-

Four days in Omaha didn't change the perception of this Illinois basketball team. That Final Four hype that's been there since early in the season and has picked up steam this month? The Illini showed why it's real. The challenge gets more challenging, of course. Iowa State in the Sweet 16 stacks up with the toughest teams Illinois has played this season and is better defensively than the Purdues, Marquettes and Tennessees of the world. Then again, few teams have a more productive offense than the Illini.