The Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-11 overall, 0-8 B1G) host Illinois (13-5, 9-3) Friday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, rescheduled from January 13th. It was the first postponed game of the 27-day shutdown due to Covid cases within the program. Friday’s contest will be the first of two this season with the Fighting Illini, who are scheduled to host NU in the last week of the regular season. That second game was originally set for February 24th, but was pushed back to accommodate the rescheduling of the other postponed matchups. Illinois has won four straight games dating back to an 87-81 loss to now-top-10 Ohio State on January 16th.
8:07 p.m. CST/9:07 EST
Lincoln, NE - Pinnacle Bank Arena
TV: Big Ten Network
Play-by-play: Kevin Kugler
Analyst: Shon Morris
Online Broadcast: Fox Sports app & foxsports.com/live
Radio: Learfield IMG College Husker Sports Network
(including 1400 AM in Lincoln, 590 AM in Omaha, 880 AM in Lexington)
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Analyst: Jake Muhleisen
Online Radio: Available on Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn.com/Huskers and TuneIn App.
SiriusXM (internet): 972
Line: Illinois -14.5
Since the Huskers picked their season back up where they left off last Saturday, they have gone 0-3 and shot just 36% from the field in each loss. That trend may not improve against an Illini defense ranked 52nd nationally in opponent shooting percentage at 40.9%. The Huskers have also turned it over at least 17 times in each game since the restart. Junior Lat Mayen has led the team in scoring each of the last two games, scoring a career-high 15 at Minnesota, and 14 against Wisconsin. Junior Teddy Allen, who did not play at Minnesota, still leads the Big Red with 16.9 points per game. Sophomore Dalano Banton is averaging 6.9 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game, both team highs. Along with junior Trey McGowens, Banton joins Allen in averaging double figure points per game. Junior Derrick Walker, who has started the last four games for Nebraska since becoming eligible, is averaging 4.8 points and 4.4 boards per game.
On defense, NU will have their hands full with the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week in Ayo Dosunmu. The All-B1G guard averages 22.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. Last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, 7-footer Kofi Cockburn, gets 17.2 points, a B1G-best 10.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocked shots per game, and shoots an efficient 67% from the floor. Other starters include Trent Frazier, who scored 24 points against Iowa two weeks ago, and Adam Miller, averaging 8.6 ppg. Rounding out the Illini starting five may be Jacob Grandison, who has only started the past four games in place of Da’Monte Williams. Williams had started the previous 14 contests this season.
All in all, the Fighting Illini are heavy favorites over Nebraska. Scoring 81.8 points per game and on a four-game winning streak, expect more of the same Friday night.
Prediction: Illinois 77 - Nebraska 62