Someone get the Badgers some coffee, because they are most definitely closers.
Now, had the Illini made more than half of their free throws down the stretch, we might be singing a different tune this evening. But that's the difference between a great team and a good one. With four minutes left, the Badgers were down by one. They went three for three from the floor and buried six free throws in six tries. In that span, the Illini went 0-for-6 shooting and made two free throws in four attempts.
Illinois stuck around all game long, coming back from eight down halfway through the second half to take the lead on a Rich McBride triple with just over five minutes to go. But then the Badgers did what they've been doing all year (save for one effort in South Padre), and at the end of the day they remained alone and undefeated at the top of the heap in the Big Ten, running their win streak to 15. Suddenly, the Illini are 2-4 in the conference and probably looking at an NIT bid if things don't change.
The Badgers get Michigan next. It's a home game, tipping off at 8 pm Central. The Wolverines aren't as good as their record suggests. I'd be surprised if Wisconsin wins by any fewer than 12 points.
Finally: is Alando Tucker the best Badger ever?