Time: 7: 30 CST, Valentine’s Day
Location: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, IN
TV: BTN, BTNToGo, FoxSportsGo
Radio: 670 theScore (Chicago, NW Indiana)
Illinois comes to this game 12-14 losing 3 of their last 5 games. The games were close with the Illini breaking down in the last 10 minutes, something that has plagued the team all year. Indiana comes into tonight rematch at 14-12, also losing 3 of their last 5 games, but on a two game win streak. The teams met 3 weeks ago the Illini edged the Hoosiers 73-71, a game where the Illini let an 8 point lead evaporate in the last minute of the game.
Keys on Offense
The Illini have to score. In the last games Illinois went for droughts of 9 minutes and 4 minutes against Penn State while PSU scored 26 points, 5 minutes against Wisconsin where a tie game was broken open, 12 minutes against Ohio State where a 13 point lead was cut to a 5 point deficit, and a 5 minute drought against Rutgers, early where the Scarlet Knights were able to bring the game within 3. The only offensive threats the Illini have is Trent Fraiser, who as we saw against Wisconsin can score at will, and senior Leron Black, who is doing everything to keep the season alive. Kipper Nichols and Freshman Mark Smith need to do more and stay consistent for the Illini to win this game. The Illini actually match up well against the Hoosiers so moving the ball and getting open shots should not be as difficult as it was against other teams.
Keys on Defense
Luckily the only man on Indiana’s team, De’Ron Davis is out for the year, but Juwan Morgan did have 28 points the last time Indiana played Illinois. Wisconsin has not once, but twice exposed Illinois defense, or rather the lack of defense in the back door. Illinois is too slow, and to in experienced to cover a man to man or play a zone effectively. Watch five minutes of any game and you can see that. If anybody other than Morgan gets hot, the Illini are going to have a hard time.
I hate to not be optimistic about this team, but the season is over. The culture is definitely changing and we have a solid group of freshmen. But like the football team, Coach Groce’s era players are holding this team back. Indiana wins, 84-73. The Illini will compete as they have all season, but, the 2nd half plague will hurt us and Illinois will go on another drought.
Then again, this could happen.