Northwestern finally beat Illinois in Champaign, for the first time since 1999. It also gives the Wildcats their second "signature victory" of the season, their first being an 81-74 upset over then-No. 6 Michigan State on Jan. 14. Guard Reggie Hearn is optimistic that the Wildcat's 74-70 victory over the Illini will help NU's chances for an NCAA tournament bid.
"This is definitely a big win for us, and going into our next game [Thursday at home against Iowa] at 3-7 would be very bad to get into the tournament and it would be better to have at least a .500 record," Hearn said. "It was great to get this kind of rivalry win, but its just another win in the grand scheme of things."
For the second game in a row, coach Bill Carmody used a six-man rotation. Drew Crawford and Dave Sobolewski both played 40 minutes and Hearn clocked in at 32. There is always a concern for fatigue, but Hearn isn't going to admit it.
"I think its working, but I don't know if I'm going to admit that I get tired," Hearn said. "But there is times when you get winded but that's the game. We're going with a six-man rotation and you have to push through it."