The No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team (14-5 overall, 8-4 Big Ten) are back on the road and this time the No. 12 Illinois Fighting Illini (12-5 overall, 8-3 Big Ten) will be waiting for them in Champaign, Ill. The Illini are on a three game winning streak, but most recently were taken to overtime by Indiana in a four point win.
Illinois has one of the most lethal inside/outside combinations of any team in the country with wing Ayo Dosunmu and big (quite literally) man Kofi Cockburn (7-foot, 285 pounds) headlining the roster. Cockburn is averaging a double-double, 16.8 ppg and 10.2 rpg, while Dosunmu is on pace to become just the third Big Ten player since 1993 to average 20 points, six rebounds and four assists in a season.
Of their five losses, the Illini have only been outscored by more the six points once (to Baylor, which...no shame in that, they’re quite good) while they’ve only had a couple of blowout wins, most notably against Minnesota and Duke. Illinois ranks No. 7 in offensive efficiency on KenPom and No. 18 on defense, so they definitely have the advanced stats of a team that will be hard to beat.
The Badgers only played the Illini once last year, and lost by one after leading for most of the game, so this veteran laden team will be looking for revenge. Almost all of the major players are back, so this should be a real barn burner of a matchup.
If I’m being honest, not much about this game screams “Badgers win” to me, but that’s usually the time this team does something crazy like beat Illinois at home by a dozen. Still, I’ll be excited when this game tips off because it means I’ll be able to stop painting my brother-in-law’s basement and isn’t that all that really matters?
How to watch/listen
TV: FOX, 1:30 p.m., CT, Kevin Kugler, Donny Marshall
Streaming: FOX Sports App
Radio/Satellite: 1310 AM, Sirius/XM 196; Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas
Live stats: Here!
Arena: State Farm Center, Champaign, Ill.
Line: Wisconsin +4.5
KenPom Wisconsin win percentage: 36%
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- Wisconsin has won in each of its last seven trips to Champaign, dating back to 2011. The Badgers’ current seven-game win streak in Champaign is the longest-ever win streak by any team at Illinois.
- Illinois defeated Wisconsin in Madison last year in the only meeting between the teams, as the Illini snapped a 15-game losing streak to the Badgers.
- The Illini lead the all-time series, 111-90, including a 68-28 advantage in Champaign.
- Wisconsin has held Illinois to 70 or fewer points in 28 of the last 29 match-ups. The only time the Ilini scored more than 70 during that stretch was last season’s 71-70 win.
- Under head coach Greg Gard, UW has matched or surpassed its first-half Big Ten win total in all but one season.
- UW is 9-5 in Quad 1 and Quad 2 games this season according to the NET rankings. Alabama (10), Illinois (nine) and Purdue (nine) are nation’s only other teams with nine plus Quad 1/2 wins.
- The Badgers have had a different player lead the team in scoring in each of the last seven games.
- The Badgers lead the Big Ten allowing only 62.5 ppg this season and rank second in FG pct. defense (40.4%).
- Wisconsin ranks third in the nation averaging only 9.2 turnovers per game, but has had 12 or more turnovers in their past three games.
- Over the last six games as a starter, Tyler Wahl is averaging 7.3 ppg (54.3% FG, 40% 3FG). Wahl began the season just 2-for-9 from 3-point range, but has since shot 7-for-12 from three.
- Brad Davison has scored in double figures in four of his five career matchups against Illinois. Davison has averaged 13.4 points per game vs. the Illini, shooting 9-20 3FG (.450); 24-29 FT.
- Nate Reuvers is also averaging 9.8 points per game in five career contests vs. the Fighting Illini.
- Owning numbers of 21.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game, Ayo Dosunmu is one of only two players nationally averaging at least 20 points, six rebounds and four assists (Cameron Shelton, Northern Arizona).
- Kofi Cockburn leads the NCAA with 12 double-doubles this season. He has posted double-doubles in nine of 11 Big Ten games, averaging 18.4 points and 11.0 rebounds during league play.
- Freshman Andre Curbelo ranks second in the Big Ten in assists during league play at 5.5 apg. He is averaging 4.6 assists on the season.
- Da’Monte Williams leads the nation in 3-point shooting (min. 30 attempts), connecting on 22-of-37 for 59.5%. However, in his last five games he is only 1-of-5 from beyond the arc and has scored 10 points total.
- Illinois is 10-0 when shooting more free throws than its opponent, compared to 2-5 in games where it gets to the foul line less than the opposition.
- 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
- Micah Potter, 6-foot-10, redshirt senior, center, No. 11
- Brad Davison, 6-foot-4, senior, guard, No. 34
- Trent Frazier, 6-foot-2, senior, guard, No. 1
- Jacob Grandison, 6-foot-6, redshirt junior, forward, No. 3
- Ayo Dosunmu, 6-foot-5, junior, guard, No. 11
- Kofi Cockburn, 7-foot, sophomore, center, No. 21
- Adam Miller, 6-foot-3, freshman, guard, No. 44