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Power Rankings: Surging Illini continue ascent

John Groce’s Illini continued their torrid play this week, dispatching Purdue and Northwestern, teams they lost to earlier this season. Winners of four straight, Illinois has moved to No. 5 in my latest Power Rankings. Where does your team land? Find out in this post. Oh, and feel free to send me your thoughts, either in the comment box in this post or on Twitter (@BTNBrentYarina).

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Big Ten Geeks: Getting ready for the Dance

We’re only a few weeks away from Selection Sunday, and there’s only a handful of games left for teams to pick up signature wins. This weekend, some did, and some didn’t.

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Illinois wins again, gets revenge vs. Northwestern

D.J. Richardson scored 18 points to lead Illinois to a 62-41 victory over Northwestern on Sunday night. Tracy Abrams added 13 points off the bench for the Illini (19-8, 6-7 Big Ten), who have won four straight and got revenge for a 68-54 loss to Northwestern last month.

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Big Ten Geeks: Boiling Over

Illinois exorcised some demons in a 20 point blowout of Purdue. The Fighting Illini seniors had never beaten the Boilermakers, but they changed that in emphatic fashion by attacking the offensive glass and limiting turnovers. In all, Illinois attempted 13 more field goals than Purdue, and those extra looks enabled John Groce’s team to score 1.20 points per trip despite 29 percent shooting on jumpers. It was Illinois’ best output since the win at Gonzaga, and it appears that the Illini of the season’s first month have returned.

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Illinois tops Purdue, snaps eight-game funk in series

D.J. Richardson scored 18 points and Illinois opened up a big first-half lead that buried Purdue 79-59 on Wednesday night. The win was the third straight for Illinois (18-8, 5-7 Big Ten), which is clawing its way back into the postseason picture. The other wins were resume-builders over No. 1 Indiana and then-No. 18 Minnesota.

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