Player to Track: Indiana

Can Nnanna Egwu regain form and help lead Illinois in what is expected to be a battle on the boards?

The easy route to take for this game would be Rayvonte Rice, as it is his first-ever Big Ten game. I went into more detail on Rice in my Game Day Thoughts… as his production is something I want to see. But I'm not picking him as the Illini player to watch. I'm going with Nnanna Egwu because he hasn't played his best basketball as of late and the Hoosiers come calling as one of the better rebounding teams Illinois has seen to this point.

Egwu has failed to score double digits in seven of his last nine games. And yeah, I know his main job isn't to score points. Nights where he scores 12 or 14 are probably going to be the exception, not the rule. He's used on only 15.5 percent of possessions he's on the court and takes only 17.3 percent of the shots. He's not always going to score all that much.

But his rebounding numbers has dropped as well. His last six games have seen totals of: 4, 1, 4, 4, 4, 7. Those seven came against UIC in his last outing, so perhaps Egwu is back on the right track. Against Indiana, with freshman Noah Vonleh averaging nearly 10 boards per, Egwu has to be on point. He needs to spearhead a relentless rebounding effort on the defensive glass. It doesn't need to be pretty and it probably won't be. But you'll know if Egwu is playing well -- the Illini will be keeping pace with the rebound margin and probably winning.


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