It wasn’t pretty for the Illinois Fighting Illini in their First Round NCAA Tournament game against the Chattanooga Mocs. But Illinois got the result it needed.

The Mocs struggled offensively, shooting 32.3% from the field, 26.7% on threes and 50.% on three throws. Despite that — and the fact that Chattanooga had only one player in double-digit scoring — the Mocs led for nearly the entire game, with the Illini not taking their first lead until the final minute. Illinois struggled in its own right, shooting 39.6% from the field, 17.6% on threes and 59.1% on free throws.

Normally, that’s a recipe for a loss and a long offseason. But on Friday, it was just good enough for a win.

Tournament watchers had a strong reaction to Illinois pulling off the hard-fought victory.

Fortunately for Illinois, “deserve” doesn’t enter into the equation. You either win or you lose. And in March Madness, that’s what matters. Illinois coach Brad Underwood knows that.

Will a narrow win over Chattanooga inspire confidence for the Fighting Illini’s chances in their next game? No. Not at all. But that’s a bridge they can cross on Sunday when that game comes.

The bottom line is, there is a next game to worry about. That’s the most important thing.

About Michael Dixon

Michael is a writer and editor for The Comeback Media. Fan of most sports, nerd when it comes to sports history. Bay Area based for now. Likely leaving sometime early in 2023.

Other loves include good tacos, pizza and obscure Seinfeld quotes.

Feel free to voice your agreements or disagreements. If you do so respectfully, Michael will gladly respond in kind.

Twitter: @mfdixon1985