Tipoff is set for 1:15 p.m. CST at the United Center as Auburn faces an opponent that was unbeaten until losing its last game, 82-73, to Missouri on Saturday. That same evening Auburn lost for the sixth time in 11 starts, dropping a 74-67 home game to Winthrop.
The Illini, who are 12-1, feature one of the top guards in the country in six-foot-four senior Brandon Paul, who is averaging 19.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
"Brandon Paul is a really good player who can create and get off his own shot at any time," Barbee says. "He has the ultimate green light, has NBA range and can get to the basket. We need to keep him out of the paint and guard him beyond the three-point line."
D.J. Anderson, a 6-3 senior guard, is averaging 11.2 points per contest for the Illini and Tracy Abrams, a 6-1 sophomore guard, is averaging 10.9 points.
"Illinois is a very talented team coming off a tough loss to Missouri," Barbee said. "The entire team is capable of making three-point shots and can go off. They have a nice complement of an inside-outside game. They are a very talented team."
Saturday's game will be televised on the Big 10 Network. It is just the second matchup ever between the Tigers and Illini who met in December 1987 with Illinois taking a 107-103 homecourt overtime victory.
The Tigers feature senior guard Frankie Sullivan, who is averaging 16.9 points per game, but is trying to get out of a shooting slump.
Sullivan said he is impressed with the Illini, who have been ranked in the Top 10 nationally.
"Illinois' guard play is very good," Sullivan says. "They can all shoot it. Their big men are solid. We need to play great team defense on the guards and contain their bigs with help from our guards."
Saturday's game will be on the homecourt of the Chicago Bulls.
"A lot of kids grow up wanting to play in an NBA arena, but it is special when you know (Michael) Jordan played there," Sullivan says. "It is going to be a great experience and I can't wait for the opportunity to showcase my talent and not only my talent, but our team's as well at the United Center."
"We have an opportunity to put a good win on our resume," Sullivan adds. "It is going to be a great challenge, and we will be up for the challenge."