Game Day Thoughts... Northwestern

Get ready for Illinois' trip to Northwestern with news, notes and thoughts for the game.

Watch to out for… I think Illinois could run Northwestern out of it's own gym. Conference games on the road are never easy, regardless of the opponent. But this Wildcats bunch is really struggling (7-9 overall, lost first three conference games, all by double digits), and Illinois is coming off a wake-up call loss. That's not good for the purple team. A re-focused and pissed off group in Orange and Blue should be more than ready for this one.

I've been told practices the past few days were more than spirited. Coach Groce got after the boys and challenged them quite a bit. I expect the response to be resounding.

What I want to see… Joe Bertrand and Rayvonte Rice to continue rebounding at a high level. Lost in the burn pile of the Badgers beatdown was the fact that Illinois out-rebounded Wisconsin by 13 and pulled 25 offensive boards.

That's fairly epic. Nnanna Egwu and Jon Ekey are usually always going to get theirs. When Bertrand and Rice are pulling like in the last game (both had nine rebounds), it's a major advantage for the Illini.

The Illini will win if… They show up. Like I said above, I expect mad focus and energy for this game. Northwestern is having a hard time finding it's way in Chris Collins' first season. Illinois needs to hone in it's shot selection offensively and get to the free throw line by attacking the basket. The Wildcats don't have anywhere near the number of options Wisconsin has, so I think Illinois will return to form defensively.

Score prediction… I've got Illinois bouncing back, winning 65-50. If I was Northwestern, I'd brace for impact. Illinois will be ready for this one.

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