This You Gotta See: Illini put the pedal down in pursuit of possible No. 1 seed

The biggest games of Ayo Dosunmu’s outstanding career have yet to unfold.

SHARE This You Gotta See: Illini put the pedal down in pursuit of possible No. 1 seed
Maryland v Illinois

Dosunmu is the best closer in college basketball.

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Michigan’s stirring comeback victory Sunday at Wisconsin — in the Wolverines’ first game in three weeks — brought some clarity to the picture at the top of the Big Ten.

The Wolverines (14-1, 9-1) are the conference favorites. Ohio State (17-4, 11-4) has, so far, the best collection of victories and a similarly excellent shot at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Illinois (14-5, 10-3) still has designs on winning out, cutting down the nets at the conference tournament and stealing a No. 1 from somebody.

On that last note? Sure, it could happen. It’s win-’em-all time for the Illini, who might as well be in March Madness mode already. This week, that means taking care of business at home against Northwestern before hitting the road to face dangerous Minnesota.

It also could mean guard Ayo Dosunmu hunting down Iowa big man Luka Garza — the leading scorer in the country — in the race for Big Ten player of the year. The Hawkeyes have underwhelmed. Dosunmu, meanwhile, continues to be the best closer in the college game. He saved the Illini on Friday at Nebraska, scoring their final 10 points of regulation and their first five of overtime.

‘‘We were down five, and I’m like, ‘All right, it’s time to lock in,’ ’’ Dosunmu said. ‘‘ ‘Let’s try to will my team to victory.’ ’’

The biggest games of his outstanding career have yet to unfold. The Illini have some stirring to do themselves.

Here’s what’s happening:

Utah Jazz v Indiana Pacers

Dougie McBuckets is doing some damage in Indy.

Photo by Lauren Bacho/Getty Images

MON 15

Bulls at Pacers (6 p.m., NBCSCH)

Guess who’s putting up career-high numbers with T.J. Warren out? The Bulls probably could use a Doug McDermott off the bench these days, if you really want to be honest about it.

Blackhawks at Red Wings (6:30 p.m., NBCSCH+)

The Hawks got off the schneid this season with back-to-back wins against their former rivals at the United Center. Just spitballing here, but how about two more tonight and Wednesday?

TUE 16

“GameChangers” (7 p.m., Marquee)

The 2018 documentary examines the tension surrounding the basketball playoff games between CPS power Marshall and suburban power New Trier in back-to-back years in the 1960s. Spoiler alert: It isn’t pretty.

Northwestern at Illinois (8 p.m., BTN)

One of these nights, the Wildcats are going to win another Big Ten game. Spoiler alert: This isn’t that night.

WED 17

Bulls at Hornets (6 p.m., NBCSCH)

Believe it or not, the Bulls outscored Michael Jordan’s squad in the first, second, third and fourth quarters when the teams played last month. And here’s the crazy part: They won the game, too.

Valparaiso at Loyola (7 p.m., NBCSCH+)

The Ramblers are crushing it, and the national pollsters have noticed. All that’s left now is for a whole lot of basketball fans here to wake up and pay attention.

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Ertz is back at it with Team USA.

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

THU 18

SheBelieves Cup: U.S. vs. Canada (6 p.m., FS1, TUDN)

The Americans are loaded with Red Stars — Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher, Tierna Davidson, Casey Krueger — for this four-team tournament that also includes Brazil and Argentina.

Nets at Lakers (9 p.m., TNT)

Knock James Harden’s game if you must, but his unselfishness (whoa, “Harden” and “unselfishness” in the same sentence!) is why the Nets are such threats to the champs this season. Nobody passes the ball better.

FRI 19

Blackhawks at Hurricanes (6 p.m., NHLN, NBCSCH)

You have to like what the young Hawks are doing lately, especially this Patrick Kane kid. He dazzled with two goals and three assists in the pair of games the teams played early this month in Chicago.

Bulls at 76ers (6:30 p.m., ESPN)

Philly entered the week with the best home and overall records in the East. We know what you Bulls fans are thinking: What could go wrong?

SAT 20

Australian Open women’s final (2:30 a.m., ESPN)

Pull an all-nighter or wipe the sleep out of your eyes insanely early? Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, who has won this Grand Slam tournament seven times, were all still in it as of Monday.

Liverpool vs. Everton (11:30 a.m., Ch. 5)

In Liverpool, the Merseyside Derby is everything. These rival clubs’ stadiums are so close together, a bloke can stand outside one and drunkenly shout curses across a park at the other. We’re sure that has never happened.

Illinois at Minnesota (1 or 2:30 p.m., Fox-32 or FS1)

The Gophers’ M.O. is to stink on the road but play absolutely lights-out — just ask Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa this season — at home. Tough trip for the Illini.

SheBelieves Cup: U.S. vs. Brazil (2 p.m., FS1, TUDN)

If you don’t know Marta — how to put this nicely? — shame on you. Buckle in and watch the greatest to ever do it (hopefully in a losing effort in this one).

SUN 21

Australian Open men’s final (2:30 a.m., ESPN)

Two words, people: Novak flippin’ Djokovic. If he doesn’t make the final to go for career title No. 9 in this tournament, you might have to tune into the 7 a.m. replay just to make sure it’s true.

Michigan at Ohio State (noon, Ch. 2)

To the winner goes a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, one must assume. To the loser goes an autographed pair of Jim Harbaugh’s khakis.

Flyers at Bruins (2 p.m., Ch. 5)

These East division-leading rivals have forgotten more about hating each other than the rest of us will ever know. Or something like that.

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