Quick takes from the first two days of the Big Ten tournament. . .

ILLINOIS: I am reluctant to keep pounding on the John Groce situation. The facts are pretty clear.

This is Illinois’ worst five-year stretch in Big Ten play in more than 40 years. The Illini are set to miss the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year, the longest drought in more than 40 years.

On the other side of the coin, Groce has an excellent group of recruits coming in. And his teams have shown flashes.

That, I believe, is an argument against him. Consistency matters.

Never mind Illini Nation. While watching the messy efforts at Rutgers last weekend and against Michigan on Thursday, I couldn’t but think that these players deserve better. . . coaching.

It’s not that Groce is terrible. He’s a good coach who will do well in his next job, whether he’s an assistant at a major program or a head coach at a smaller school.

He’s just not in the same league with John Beilein or any number of other Big Ten coaches. He may improve down the road. But coaching at the highest level of college basketball is a tricky deal. There are a lot of nuances involved.

And Illinois needs to find someone who has mastered them. The Big Ten gobbles up coaches who haven’t done that.

NORTHWESTERN: Leave it to Chris Collins. As if the Wildcats haven’t already done enough in this magical season, they seem to be playing their best basketball at the most important time of the year. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.