Illinois Illini Preview
Date: Saturday, February 2nd
Time: 1:00pm CST
Location: Champaign, Il
2018-19 Record: 6-15 (2-8 Big Ten Conference)
Previous Meeting: Nebraska 75 Illinois 60
The last time we saw Illinois they came into Pinnacle Bank Arena and were handed and fairly easy loss and sent back home to lick their wounds. This was back on December 2nd. Remember, the Big Ten decided to put two conference games in the middle of the non conference slate? The Huskers first lost to Minnesota in Minneapolis and then took their frustrations out on the Illini.
Since then Illinois really have done little to improve their position in the conference. They have won four games since that December meeting and the only real upset was a 78-67 win against then #13 Maryland this past Sunday. They then went to Minnesota and lost 86-75. Throwing any real good momentum from that loss out the window.
Maryland is a young team and the game was home for Illinois so just maybe that had something to do with the win. We like to look upon the toughness of away games in the Big Ten here at Corn Nation so that very well could have been in play for the Illini.
Sophomore guard Trent Frazier is still leading the team with 14.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 29 assists per game. Nebraska kept him at 9 points in the previous meeting but recently had a season high of 30 points in the Illini loss to Minnesota. While he is still one of the top players on the team, the young guard can still be hot or cold depending on the night.
Next to Trent is guard Ayo Dosunmu. The freshman is averaging 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game this year. He clocked in 10 points against the Huskers in December. At 6’5” Ayo has height that can put him at an advantage depending who’s guarding him on the court. He is another player that is talented but has been hot and cold all season in regards to his play.
All the way from Georgia (the country) comes Giorgi Bezhanishvili at forward. He is averaging 11.1 points and leads the team with 4.9 rebounds this season. He had 14 points and 6 rebounds against Nebraska in the previous meeting. A team high for both. He is young but positions himself well in the paint.
I would expect him to play fairly agressive and try to get the Huskers in trouble as the game goes on. Giorgi has the best shot to take advantage of the Huskers lack of size and athleticism under the basket. He is 6’9” and 235 pounds and uses it to his full advantage.
Nebraska should win this game. They have more experience and just enough talent to pull of another win against the Illini. However, the previous games have given me doubt on whether they can pull of a full game. Let alone one on the road to a team that could have a hostile environment. Illinois has only won six games this season but have given some teams fits to the very end.
The Huskers are currently in a funk that they have yet to shake. This will be the easiest game they have for at least another week. If they can’t pull this off the season might be over soon. I can see this going badly for the Huskers but my optimism is still there.
University of Nebraska 71 University of Illinois 65