Wednesday night features a matchup of Big Ten teams as the Illinois Fighting Illini (10-5) travel to the Kohl Center to take on the Wisconsin Badgers (9-5). Both of these teams are jockeying for position in the Big Ten Conference and are chasing the 4-0 Michigan State Spartans. The Illini are currently 2-2 in the Big Ten while the Badgers are 2-1.
Both teams will be looking for the conference win. Tipoff for this one is scheduled for 9 pm ET.
The Fighting Illini have gone 4-4 in their last eight games. To their credit, two of those losses were to teams in the Top 15 in the nation (No. 12 Maryland, No. 8 Michigan State).
They have shown resiliency, though, as one of those wins was over No. 19 Michigan 71-62. They will be looking to go over.500 in conference play on Wednesday.
Wisconsin actually comes into this game having won four in a row. In the Badgers’ last matchup, they beat No. 11 Ohio State 61-57 to pick up their second Big Ten conference win of the season. They will look to keep that going against Illinois.
The Badgers come into this one as four-point favorites playing at home. The over/under for total points scored is currently set at 125.
By The Numbers
Offensively, the Illini come into this one ranking 81st in the nation in scoring, averaging 74.9 points per game (64.4 on the road). Wisconsin is 205th overall, averaging 68.4 points per game (77.9 at home).
The Badgers hold the advantage defensively, ranking 16th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 60.2 points per game (58.7 at home). Illinois is 72nd in the nation, allowing 64.9 points per game (71.8 on the road).
Illini Look For Road Conference Win
At 10-5, it has been a solid start for Illinois this season. Much of its success can be attributed to Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. Dosunmu, a sophomore guard, is averaging 15.1 points, 2.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Cockburn, a freshman center, is averaging 15 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. If those two can get going, the Illini certainly have a chance.
Aside from those two, Andres Feliz (10.9 points, 3.5 assists, 4.9 rebounds), Alan Griffin (9.5 points, 4.4 rebounds) and Trent Frazier (9.4 points, 2.1 assists, two rebounds) have been the Illini’s biggest contributors.
Trying To Stay Undefeated At Home
At 7-0, the Kohl Center has been awfully kind to the Badgers this season, and they will look to keep that going Wednesday. Leading the way for the Badgers this season has been Nate Reuvers. The forward is averaging 14.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
Aside from Reuvers, the other significant stat leaders for Wisconsin have been D’Mitrik Trice (10.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists), Kobe King (10.2 points, 3.2 rebounds), Aleem Ford (9.6 points, 4.2 rebounds), Brad Davison (8.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, two assists) and Brevin Pritzl (8.1 points, 3.6 rebounds).
Wisconsin Wins And Covers
Even though Illinois is capable of an upset, I have a really hard time betting against Wisconsin in this one. The defense of the Badgers has been elite this year, and they have been over 10 points better on offense at home compared to on the road.
This is also evident in the fact they are 7-0 at home versus 2-5 on the road or at neutral sites. Throw on top of that the fact that Illinois has been shaky away from home (1-4), and I think this is a recipe for Wisconsin to win relatively easily.
KEN BARNES FREE NCAAB PICK:
For my money, I am taking the Badgers (-4).