"We have some seniors who love making big plays," Richardson said. "Me and Tyler just welcomed Brandon to (our) game-winner club."
The Illini (22-11) likely will need more big plays from its seniors to beat top-seeded Indiana in Friday's quarterfinals at the United Center.
"We have Indiana next and we have a mindset that this is it for us," Paul said. "Especially for our seniors, we have to play, go out with a bang. Our focus right now is on the Big Ten tournament and our next opponent."
When Indiana last played Illinois the Hoosiers were treated to the same type of stunning end that Minnesota suffered Thursday. In the 74-72 Illini victory Feb. 7 in Champaign, Paul's inbound pass set up Griffey for an uncontested layup at the buzzer as fans stormed the court.
The third-ranked Hoosiers (26-5), who received a first-round bye, enter the tournament with as much momentum as any team in the country after beating Michigan to conclude the regular season and win the Big Ten title outright for the first time in 20 years.
They rank second nationally with 80.8 points per game and seventh shooting 48.8 percent.
Illinois will need more hot hands than just Paul's to keep up with numbers like that.
Other than Paul, who shot 10 of 16 for 25 points against Minnesota, the rest of the Illini combined to shoot 8 of 40. No one else scored more than six points.
Illinois held the Gophers to 27.3 percent shooting in the first half before they rallied to erase a 12-point Illini lead.
The Illini scored 28 points off 14 Indiana turnovers in their first meeting. Against Minnesota, the Illini scored 21 points off 17 Gophers turnovers.
Illinois was considered a lock for the NCAA tournament no matter its outcome against the Gophers, but it doesn't mind picking up March momentum.
"We're not worried about that," Paul said. "What happens with that happens when it happens."
After watching Minnesota (20-12) take over in the second half (shooting 55.6 percent) to take a four-point lead after trailing by 12, Illinois controlled the final 1:20.
Richardson tied the game 49-49 with 48 seconds left on a 3-pointer that came on the fifth shot of a single Illini possession. He had shot just 1-for-11 before sinking the shot.
On Minnesota's possession, Sam McLaurin's defense forced Austin Hollins to step out of bounds. Paul then raced down the court, worked the shot clock and gave the Illini home-like crowd a reason to erupt.
"Fighting Illini, that's what we have to go by," Richardson said. "That's our name. Minnesota had us down. We could have easily thrown in the towel but we kept fighting back."