Matt Gatens scored 20 points, Aaron White added 13 and Iowa beat Illinois 64-61 in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament.
The win means that the Hawkeyes, who were one of the surprise teams in the Big Ten this season, will have a shot at No. 1 seed Michigan State on Friday afternoon. This is a team that has beaten Michigan, Indiana and swept Wisconsin this year. The Branden Dawson-less Spartans are going to be in for a fight.
But that’s not the biggest story line coming out of this game.
Will we ever see Bruce Weber coach in the Big Ten again?
The assumption has been, for much of the season, that we won’t. Weber completely lost this Illini team over the last two months of the year. They lost 12 of their last 14 games, with a number of those performances giving off the vibe that the Illini simply did not care. When you find yourself down by 30 to Nebraska, its pretty clear that there are some pretty big issues on your team.
The frustrating part for Illinois fans is that the issue for the Illini is certainly not talent. Brandon Paul and DJ Richardson are talented wings. Meyers Leonard is a lottery pick. Joseph Bertrand, Sam Maniscalco, Tyler Griffey. Weber had pieces. But he had pieces the last two years as well. Those seasons went downhill at the end of Big Ten play.
In fact, Illinois has never even approached the level that is was at when Weber took over in 2005. That year, he took Bill Self’s players to the national title game. Since then, they’ve won just a single NCAA Tournament game.
As much as anything, that is what will cost Weber his job.