Illinois Illini Preview
Date: Thursday, February 25th
Time: 7:00 pm CST
Location: Champaign, IL
Record: 16-6 (12-4 Big Ten)
Rank: Coaches 4/AP 5
Head Coach: Brad Underwood (4th Season)
The number two team in the Big Ten gets the home court advantage in game two as the Illini get a visit from the Huskers. Illinois, a team that Nebraska took into overtime in Lincoln, are coming off of a 71-82 loss to the Michigan State Spartans. A somewhat surprising setback for one of the top teams in the nation. They hope to be able to come into the game tonight and take another one away from the Huskers.
Nebraska was able to push the Illini into overtime at their first meeting. It was a bit of a shock to see the bottom of the Big Ten Huskers push Illinois into the free basketball period. A big night from Lat Mayan, Teddy Allen, and Trey McGowens combined with a flat start by Illinois helped the Huskers make it game. However, the steam that drove Nebrasketball through regulation was not there to finish in overtime. Illinois kept the win on the road with a 77-72 win over the Huskers.
The Illini are lead by Ayo Dosunmu. The 6’5” guard is averaging a team high 21 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game. He had a huge game against the Huskers in their last meeting with 31 points in the win. I would expect Ayo to threaten Nebraska once again on his home court.
Under the basket is center Kofi Cockburn. A true big man who is 7’0” and 285 pounds of paint dominating issues for opposing teams. He is averaging 17.1 points and a whopping 10.1 rebounds a game, which leads the Big Ten. He pulled down 14 boards against Nebraska last time out and I would expect the same from him in the State Farm Center. Nebraska will have to put a lot of pressure on him under the hoop if they plan on pulling off this win.
Illinois is currently positioning for Big Ten Tournament placement. They need this game to make sure to get at least the number two spot. Nebraska, on the other hand, needs to do everything they can to try and steal a win to improve from their one win in conference play.