General

With Win, The Bubble Now Beckons For Illini

abramsThursday’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) Can you be on the bubble for being on the bubble?

If so, that’s precisely where ninth-seeded Illinoisfinds itself today after an impressive 64-54 victory over eighth-seeded Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.

On the strength of a season-high 25 points from junior guard Tracy Abrams, the Illini (19-13) have advanced to the quarterfinals, where top-seeded seed Michigan (23-7) awaits. And sitting there right alongside the Wolverines is Illinois’ chance at possibly sneaking into the NCAA Tournament, something that only someone wearing the thickest orange-colored glasses would have thought possible just a few weeks ago.

Coming into the conference tournament, I thought that if the Illini could win two games that they’d put themselves on the NCAA Tournament bubble and that if they could somehow win three they’d have a great shot at getting in. But first, to have any shot at all, they need to keep Michigan from shooting as great as it did during the Wolverines’ 84-53 embarrassment of Illinois at the State Farm Center on March 4.

With all that in mind, here are a few more thoughts after the Illini’s rousing victory over the Hoosiers.

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