Sweeping Michigan and Purdue seemed impressive, right?
Historically, and recently, Michigan and Purdue are B1G contenders. But what about this year? Purdue is 13-10 overall. Michigan is 4-7 in conference.
Is that good?
Memories of Caleb Swanigan and John Beilein are fresh, but Trevion Williams is not Caleb Swanigan. Beilein is gone. So is Bo Ryan. Wisconsin is also 13-10 on the year.
Looking at the schedule on February 8 gives the viewer a different impression of this Illini season than s/he might have had on October 29. Did you predict that Penn State and Rutgers would be the hard games?
And yet, arguably, Rutgers is the only good team that Illinois has beaten this season.
Last night’s loss looked a lot like its predecessor in Iowa City. Maryland employed an aggressive zone defense to completely emasculate the Illini. You can readily envision the Terps coaching staff slow-forwarding through video sequences of that Iowa game, identifying known weaknesses and capabilities.
Likewise, you can imagine the Iowa staff presenting video clips from the Braggin’ Rights embarrassment while telling its team if you challenge them with all your energy and effort; they will fold.
Special credit goes to Terps guard Darryl Morsell, who latched on to Ayo Dosunmu and didn’t let go. Perhaps he watched the Miami game.
If Ayo gets past you, it’s over. And Ayo is extremely good at getting past you. But if you keep him in front, hands high, Ayo’s arsenal diminishes.
Some fans seemed to think Illinois had a chance in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Or at least, they didn’t start leaving in droves until Anthony Cowan drained yet another three to put the Terps up 69-60 with 2:34 remaining.
It’s sweet that they felt Illinois had a chance, after scoring a single field goal in the first 10:52 of the second half.
But the truth is that Maryland had this one safely in its grasp from the moment they initiated that press.
The good news, if you want to call it good, is that NET rankings will probably keep the Illini in the tournament even if — as seems likely — their losing streak extends to five.
On the other hand, Izzo often craps the bed versus Illinois. And he’s too inflexible to mimic another team’s winning formula. So there’s that.
The Illini defense was much better against Maryland than at Breslin. In fact, it kept them within scratching distance during their 40 day ordeal in the scoring desert.