Jan. 31—What happened
Value City Arena gave off neutral site during Feast Week vibes on Tuesday night. No home court advantage for Ohio State. Not with its too big venue half empty and the fans that did show up visibly (and vocally) over this season. The Buckeyes did make shots early in the game, but Illinois locked in defensively — tough twos, few threes — and picked up the road win.
What it means
Illinois checked two important boxes with its win in Columbus, Ohio. The Illini still have Big Ten title aspirations. Legitimate conference championship contenders win on the road. The Illini are also trending toward a top four seed in the NCAA tournament. A dearth of Quad I wins would make reaching that goal more challenging. Beating the Buckeyes by 12 secured both.
The first break in the schedule in nearly three weeks. Illinois' conference slate had been a steady dose of two-day preps this month. Otherwise known as January in the Big Ten. The Illini (16-5, 7-3 Big Ten) won't be back in action until a 5:30 p.m. Sunday showdown with Nebraska, with the Cornhuskers (15-6, 5-5) hosting Wisconsin on Thursday night before their trip to C-U.
What was said
"We're a little bit unorthodox — I get it — going with 'booty ball' as we call it to get different matchups ... One thing I was very happy with was we took threes. Our last game we turned them down, and we're a really good shooting team. It was nice to see (Terrence Shannon Jr.) to get going from three." — Illinois coach Brad Underwood after an 87-point performance.