The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

No. 23 Illinois men’s basketball faces test against No. 4 Marquette in sold-out matchup

Olivia McAfoos
Guard Terrence Shannon Jr. passes the ball as Marquette surrounds him during the second half of Monday night’s game.

After kicking off the 2023-24 season with a 2-0 start, Illinois men’s basketball will be back at the State Farm Center on Tuesday night for a top-25 clash against Marquette. The Illini earned a No. 23 spot in the AP poll this week, while the Golden Eagles moved to No. 4.

“Obviously, the Gavitt games are here, and it puts us against one of the elite programs in the country,” said head coach Brad Underwood. “The Big East had a great year last year, Yukon won the national championship and yet the team we’re playing tomorrow night beat them twice.”

Tuesday night will see the second top-10 matchup for Illinois in the past couple of weeks, with the program defeating No. 1 Kansas in an exhibition on Oct. 29. This time, however, the result will count. The Golden Eagles will be traveling to Champaign to face the Illini in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, a series of college basketball games played between Big Ten and Big East teams.

Both teams (2-0) will come into the contest with wind in their sails. For Illinois, the key to upsetting the fourth-best team in the nation relies on vast improvement in the scoring category as well as protecting the basketball.

The Illini were able to outlast the Oakland Golden Grizzlies by an 11-point margin in their last outing. A poor display in the opening 10 minutes saw Underwood’s squad having to dig themselves out of a hole, and the team shot a mere 8-16 from the free-throw line. A similar slow start against the Golden Eagles could prove especially costly against a team of their caliber.

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    Still, it’s hard to make judgments after two games into the official season, so there is no reason for panic in Champaign.

    “I like where we’re at, I like the depth we’re developing,” Underwood said. “We’re still a little unsettled in roles, but guys gotta keep practicing hard and we’re doing that. Guys gotta keep pushing each other and we’re doing that.”

    Underwood highlighted graduate student guard Justin Harmon, junior guard Luke Goode and redshirt junior center Dain Dainja as standing out in recent team practices. This is a very positive sign for the Illini as they get set to take the court.

    Tuesday night will see the 16th matchup between Illinois and Marquette, with the Illini leading the all-time series with a 9-6 record. It will also be a chance at revenge for Underwood, who has only faced the Golden Eagles once, losing by a narrow 67-66 score back on Nov. 15, 2021. Now, nearly two years later, Marquette will be lining up against Illinois again, this time at the State Farm Center.

    The high-caliber showdown will tip off at 7 p.m. in Champaign, with both the undefeated Illini and Golden Eagles aiming to hand their adversary a first defeat of the 2023-24 season.



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    About the Contributor
    James Kim, Sports Editor
    My name is James Kim and I’m a senior studying English with a minor in business. This is my third year with The Daily Illini and it’s been an amazing ride so far. When I joined in fall 2021, I began as a staff writer for the sports section where I covered women’s tennis. In spring 2022, I became an assistant sports editor and started covering soccer and Illinois men’s basketball. From spring 2023 onwards I’ve been working as the sports editor! In addition to being an Illini and Real Madrid fanatic, I also love watching movies and TV shows. If you have any questions about writing for The DI, you can reach me at my email below. I-L-L!