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UPDATED: Nebrasketball: Illinois Fighting Illini Preview

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After a strong start to conference play including tied for first in the conference, the Illini have fallen on hard times of late. But the space-ship-esque State Farm Center isn’t likely to beam down a W for the Huskers.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska Cornhuskers @ Illinois Fighting Illini Preview

Date: Monday, February 24th

Time: 7:00 pm CST/8:00 pm EST

Location: State Farm Center, Champaign, Illinois

2019-20 Record: 17-9 (9-6, 6th in standings)

Mascot: Fighting Illini

Head Coach: Brad Underwood, 3rd season (43-48 record, 20-33 Big Ten)

How To Watch: BTN
Radio: TuneIn

Current Season:

The Illini have had a bit of an inconsistent season. They dropped non-conference games at Arizona, home to Miami, and a neutral court match-up against Missouri. However, they picked up wins over Old Dominion, a road win at Wisconsin, home win over Rutgers, and they swept Michigan. At one point Illinois was riding a seven game win streak and sitting atop conference standings. However, they only just snapped a four game losing streak with a thrilling 62-56 road win over #9 Penn State. Regardless of their struggles of late, Illinois seems well positioned to snap an NCAA tournament drought streak dating to 2011 in a few short weeks.

The Illini are anchored by sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu his 16.2 points and 3.2 assists per game. Hot on his heels is freshman phenomenon, 7’0” center Kofi Cockburn. Cockburn is averaging 13.6 points a game, while leading the team in rebounds, 8.9 per game, and blocks, 1.2. He also has an eye-popping 13 double-doubles this season already. In all honesty expect tonight to be his 14th. Senior guard Andres Feliz is third in scoring, managing 11 points per game.

Illinois is averaging 72.5 points a game, and 40.1 rebounds. They also average just 4.9 steals compared to 12.7 turnovers, and just 44.3% shooting from the field. Their high-pressure full court defense is likely to cause headaches for the Huskers as they try to push the pace.

Prediction

While the Huskers haven’t given up on the season given their recent efforts against heavy weights like Maryland and Michigan State, the losing has to be taking a toll. While Illinois has struggled of late, there’s simply no answer Nebraska will likely figure out for Cockburn down low on defense. As for offense, their failures to convert drives to the basket will continue to frustrate their changes of pulling out wins in a tough conference road game.
Fighting Illini 68-Huskers 59

Illness Update