This is the Illinois that we all expected to see this season.
The Illini, who are currently ranked No. 12 in the country, fell to 1-3 in Big Ten play on Saturday afternoon after losing at Wisconsin. It’s not the fact that Illinois lost that is troubling; it’s how they did it.
Wisconsin jumped out to leads of 14-0 and 31-7, eventually pushing their advantage to 26 points late in the first half. It was as bad as the score — 74-51 when it was all said and done — indicates.
For the second straight game, Illinois couldn’t hit a shot from beyond the arc. On Wednesday, Illinois was 3-for-24 from three in an 84-67 loss to Minnesota at home. On Saturday, the Illini were just 2-for-14 from deep. For a team that relies on the three as heavily as Illinois does, those shooting numbers simply aren’t going to result in many wins.
Brandon Paul was 1-for-11 from the floor. He’s shooting just 25% from the field in the last two games and, with the exception of the win over Ohio State, has been very underwhelming ever since his 36 points performance against Gonzaga.
We looked at how Purdue defended Paul in their win over the Illini in the Big Ten opener. Have teams figured out that stopping Paul means beating Illinois?