Illini 8th Seed in Big Ten Tourney After Loss
By Jeff Bossert, with additional reporting from Rob McColley
Indiana has secured its first outright Big Ten Championship in 20 years, while the Illini will open the Big Ten tournament Thursday at 11 a.m. against Minnesota.
The Hoosiers' conference championship was their first in 20 years by beating Michigan in Ann Arbor Sunday. Michigan led by five points with under a minute to go, but the Wolverines couldn't hit their free throws.
The Hoosiers scored the last six points of the game to win 72-to-71.
Meanwhile, in Columbus, Ohio State beat Illinois 68-to-55. That means the Illini will open the Big Ten Tournament Thursday morning as the 8th seed. They'll face Minnesota, with the winner getting Indiana on Friday morning.
As for the game at Columbus, Brandon Paul led Illinois with 21 points.
Myke Henry led Illinois in two categories. He was happy about the eight rebounds, but not the three turnovers. Henry said the team played flustered Sunday, but they're not going to dwell on it.
"I was rushing, I think, today." he said. "We missed a lot of shots. The coach always tells us to stay together. Losing is part of the game. Don't really think about it - you have to move onto the next one, and don't let it carry over to the next game."
Illini coach John Groce felt the game was determined in the closing minutes of the first half.
"I thought the biggest segment of the game was the 12-2 Ohio State run to end the first half," he said. "We lost by 13 - you basically take that 12-2 run out, we're right there."
Despite the loss, the Illini are considered a lock for an NCAA Tournament bid.
According to The Bracket Project's Sunday afternoon update, Illinois is included in all 76 of the surveyed bracketologists' projected fields, with an average seed of 8.5.