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Wisconsin basketball: Eastern Illinois Panthers 2019-20 preview

Coach Jay Spoonhour has got all five starters back from last year and is looking for a finish near the top of the OVC.

NCAA Basketball: Eastern Illinois at Indiana Matt Kryger-USA TODAY

Eastern Illinois

Nickname: Panthers

Conference: Ohio Valley Conference

Location: Charleston, Illinois


Head coach: Jay Spoonhour, seven years at Eastern Illinois

2018-19 record: 14-18 (7-11 OVC)

Last time in NCAA Tournament: 2001, lost in first round to Arizona

Top three returning scorers: Josiah Wallace, junior, guard, 15.5 ppg; Mack Smith, junior, guard, 12.8 ppg; Shareef Smith, senior, guard, 8.5 ppg

Key loss: Ben Harvey, freshman, guard, 10.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg; transferred to Southern Illinois

Exciting newcomer: Jordan Skipper-Brown, wing, McLennan Junior College (Waco, Texas), sat out last year after transferring, averaged 11.1 ppg and 4.8 rpg as a sophomore, should be one of the first players off the bench

Date of game: Friday, Nov. 8th, 7 p.m. CT, BTN+

Location: Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin

Body: The EIU Panthers return all five of their starter from a team last year that could put the ball in the hoop (71.8 ppg) but, well, couldn’t stop the other team (76.8 ppg) from doing the same. They added a handful of JUCO wings, including Skipper-Brown listed above, that could improver their overall talent level and help on defense. The Panthers have no one on the roster taller than 6-foot-9, so they could be in trouble on the glass.

Wallace is their leading scorer and best player. He’s predicted to make the all-conference team by both Athlon Sports and Lindy’s and will be the player that the Badgers will be focused on stopping. The Panthers best win last year was against Austin Peay and they got blown out by both Texas and Iowa State, two comparable teams to the Badgers.

Prediction: Badgers win 83-61