Illinois Basketball: Fans Should Take Cautious Optimism with the Illini

The Illinois basketball team went into Evanston last night and came away with a big victory.

This was a game that few people had the Illini winning and I am one of those people.  Illinois hasn’t exactly been good on the road in quite some time.

You have to go back to the 2015-16 season to find the last road win for the Illini and that was a triple-overtime victory over Rutgers on February 3.

Yes, it was over a year since Illinois could celebrate on an opponent’s floor.

But, nonetheless, it was a victory for the orange and blue and they now move to 14-11 on the season and 4-8 in Big Ten play.

Fans should celebrate this win because it was a NCAA Tournament-bound program and technically it keeps the Illini alive for a postseason bid.

If Illinois wins out they can hit the 20 win mark and I would think that would be good enough to go dancing.

Illinois fans should take complete cautious optimism with this victory, though.

While it was a nice win over Northwestern, Illinois would still need to win out which means they win three more games on the road.

Do I think the Illini can do it? Yes, I think they can because I have never doubted they have NCAA Tournament talent on the team.

But, the bigger question is, do I think the Illini will do it?  No, I don’t because this has been the trend with John Groce era teams.

In the Groce era Illinois has knocked off random good opponents and then the fan base gets excited because we just beat a decent team.

Beating Northwestern on the road means we can beat teams that are that good or worse and the rest of the schedule for the Illini is worse than the Wildcats.

But, in true Illinois fashion, they are likely to lose a game we didn’t see coming.

I am taking cautious optimism with this program heading into the future, but unless this team makes a run to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, I still think there needs to be a coaching change.

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