But according to Groce, the additions has not really changed the preparation for Illinois.
“They have a system and style of play which they have been very consistent with for the most part during the decade,’’ he said. “I don’t know if that changes a whole lot. They are really good at what they do.
“Obviously, we know how dangerous they are in transition. They are a great shooting team, they are No. 1 in 3-point field goals made and percentage. Defensively, they don’t beat themselves, they are always in the right position, they block out well. They are difficult to get easy baskets against them. They have a great depth, especially with everyone healthy.’’
While Michigan State enters today’s game with an NCAA Tournament berth firmly in hand, Illinois still has some work to do to secure a postseason berth.
With back-to-back wins, the Illini are guaranteed to finish the year at .500, but one more victory would guarantee the team a winning record and more than likely, a berth in one of the postseason tournaments.
“We always have that at the forefront of our minds,’’ Groce said. “From the beginning of the season, we walk about it and then we kind of let it rest.’’
Groce said the team basically focuses on playing good basketball and knowing that results of that will take care of their postseason goals.
“We want to be a team that plays in postseason,’’ he said. “Ideally, we want to be a team in the NCAA Tournament. That’s a goal of our team every year.’’
It’s unlikely that Illinois can make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large participant, the Fighting Illini basically will need to win the Big Ten Tournament title to reach the 68-team tournament for the second year in a row.