Illinois' Bruce Weber reacts along the sideline in first-half NCAA college basketball game action against Wisconsin at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill., on Sunday, March 7, 2010. (AP photo/John Dixon) By John Dixon
After dominating at home early in the season, Illinois (18-13, 10-8 Big Ten) ended the regular season on a sour note Sunday, falling 72-57 to No. 15 Wisconsin (23-7, 13-5) at the Assembly Hall. The loss was the third in a row for the Illini, and it makes next weekend’s Big Ten Tournament even more critical if the Illini have any hope of an NCAA Tournament berth.
“It’s not a good feeling to lose a game that you thought you needed to have, especially for postseason chances,” junior forward Bill Cole said. “But I guess you got to look ahead to the Big Ten Tournament. We can cause a ruckus in there. I mean, we have the talent. It’s just a matter of playing up to our ability.”
With seven minutes to play, Illinois pulled to within five points of Wisconsin, but the Badgers went on a 17-7 run in the final five minutes and 23 seconds to drive the nail into the Illini coffin.
When the Illini pulled it close, head coach Bruce Weber called a timeout to tell his squad what would happen if they didn’t take full advantage of the opportunity.