The No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers (16-8 overall, 10-7 Big Ten) welcome the No. 5 Illinois Fighting Illini (17-6 overall, 13-4 Big Ten) to Madison on Saturday afternoon, on Senior Day, looking for a marquee conference win to bolster their NCAA Tournament, and Big Ten Tournament, seeding hopes. This will be Illinois’ fourth game in a week (the Illini are 2-1 in that stretch) and their first of three straight road games to end the season.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, hasn’t played since last Sunday, a 68-51 over hapless Northwestern, and are well-rested and ready to nab a Quad 1 victory against Illinois. The Badgers will also be looking for revenge after the Illini thumped them in Champaign three weeks ago.
This Illinois team may look significantly different from the first time the two teams played as All-America candidate Ayo Dosunmu broke his nose two games again Michigan State and missed their last game against Nebraska. His status is still up in the air for Saturday afternoon’s tilt in Madison, but it would appear that he won’t be cleared to play. (Saturday morning update below)
Illinois' Ayo Dosunmu (nose) is OUT for today's game against Wisconsin, per Brad Underwood. Second straight game out of the lineup. Averages 21 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.3 APG.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 27, 2021
“Before I get asked, Ayo’s situation is no different than it was (Thursday) night,” head coach Brad Underwood said on Friday morning. “There’s no need to continue to beat that up. We’ll always do what’s in the best interest of that young man and his career and our team.”
There are a number of things that Wisconsin will have to improve upon to beat Illinois in the rematch, but if the Illini are missing their star guard that dropped a triple-double on their heads last time, they are off to a good start. UW will need to shoot better from three, which they have since the last Illini game, and get to the foul line more often, which they have in three of their past four games. Slowing down big man Kofi Cockburn (23 points, 14 rebounds in first matchup) will also be key, especially since his usage was up in the last game with Dosunmu out.
"You want to leave the jersey in a better place than you found it and you want to continue to build the program"— Wisconsin Basketball (@BadgerMBB) February 26, 2021
Tomorrow, we celebrate our seniorshttps://t.co/1p7NQANg7S
Brad Davison, Micah Potter and Aleem Ford will all be looking to play well because not only is it Senior Day, but the trio did not play well against Illinois the first time and will want to rectify that. The Badgers will be honoring those three, along with D’Mitrik Trice, Nate Reuvers, Trevor Anderson (who is day-to-day with an “upper body” injury) and Walt McGrory since this is the last home game of the season.
How to watch/listen
TV: ESPN, 1:00 p.m., CT, Jason Benetti, Dan Dakich
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Radio/Satellite: 1310 AM, Sirius/XM 84; Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas
Live stats: Here!
Arena: Kohl Center
Line: Wisconsin -3
KenPom Wisconsin win percentage: 49%
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- Wisconsin claimed Big Ten win number 10 last weekend, giving UW double-digit wins for the 18th time in the last 20 years. No other Big Ten team can make that claim.
- UW needs one more win to clinch a winning Big Ten record for the 21st time in the last 22 years.
- Wisconsin will recognize the seniors on this year’s roster Saturday for Senior Day. UW’s seven-man senior class has appeared in a combined 636 games (413 starts), combining for over 5,000 points, as well as nearly 2,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.
- Four members of UW’s senior class (Anderson, Potter, Reuvers and Trice) have already earned their degrees and are pursuing master’s degrees. The other three (Davison, Ford and McGrory) are on pace to graduate this May.
- Wisconsin leads the nation averaging only 9.0 turnovers per game
- The Badgers lead the Big Ten allowing only 62.7 ppg this season and rank 3rd in FG% defense (41.2%).
- Wisconsin and Illinois will meet for the 203rd time in a series dating back to 1906.
- The Illini lead the all-time series, 112-90, but the Badgers own a mark of 59-40 in Madison.
- Illinois has won the last two meetings, but prior to that the Badgers won 15 straight in the series.
- Wisconsin had held Illinois to 70 or fewer points in 28 straight games prior to the last two meetings where the Illini tallied 71 and 75.
- With 226 career three-pointers, Trice now ranks No. 4 in school history. He needs just one more made three to crack UW’s all-time top-three and two to be in third place alone.
- Over the last two Big Ten seasons, Illinois has the best win percentage (.703) and most league wins (26).
- Cockburn ranks second in the NCAA with 15 double-doubles this season. He has posted double-doubles in 12 of 17 Big Ten games, averaging 18.9 points and 10.4 rebounds during league play.
- Freshman Adam Miller has started every game this season for the Illini and ranks fourth among all Big Ten freshmen in scoring at 8.7 ppg.
- Illinois is 15-1 this season when holding teams to less than 45% shooting.
- D’Mitrik Trice, 6-foot, redshirt senior, guard, No. 0
- Aleem Ford, 6-foot-8, redshirt senior, forward, No. 2
- Tyler Wahl, 6-foot-9, sophomore, forward, No. 5
- Brad Davison, 6-foot-4, senior, guard, No. 34
- Nate Reuvers, 6-foot-11, senior, forward, No. 35
- Trent Frazier, 6-foot-2, senior, guard, No. 1
- Jacob Grandison, 6-foot-6, redshirt junior, forward, No. 3
- Da’Monte Williams, 6-foot-3, senior, guard, No. 20
- Kofi Cocburn, 7-foot, sophomore, center, No. 21
- Adam Miller, 6-foot-3, freshman, guard, No. 44