PREVIEW: Illinois at Indiana

Lead basketball reporter Derek Piper previews Illinois' trip to Indiana on Tuesday.

Illinois (9-9, 1-4) at

No. 25 Indiana (15-3, 5-0)

Date & Time: Jan. 19, 6 p.m. CT

Location: Assembly Hall (Bloomington, Ind.)


Quick Hits

  • Indiana comes in on a 10-game winning streak, including their first five games in conference.
  • The Hoosiers are No. 25 in the AP Top 25 and No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
  • Indiana is one of the best offensive teams in the country, as they are No. 2 overall in effective field goal percentage.
  • Illinois is 86-87 all-time against Indiana, and they've lost their last three trips to Bloomington.
  • The Illini have lost their last seven true road games.
  • Illinois is 3-9 in their last 12 games against Big Ten opponents dating back to last season.

Projected Starters

Jaylon Tate (JR): Tate had five points, three rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes against Nebraska. He is in for a big-time challenge against one of the best point guards in the country in Yogi Ferrell.

Jalen Coleman-Lands (FR): Coleman-Lands finished with 11 points on Saturday, while going 3-of-8 from deep. The Indiana native has posted double figures in four of his first five Big Ten games, and the Illini will need more of the same against the Hoosiers.

Kendrick Nunn (JR): Nunn had an off-game by his standards against Nebraska with 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting. The junior guard did not start after violating team rules. Nunn ranks second in the Big Ten with 18.5 points per game.

Malcolm Hill (JR): Hill was one of the few players that John Groce was happy with after Saturday's loss. He finished with 17 points, seven assists and four rebounds. Hill has to play at an even higher level to pull the upset.

Michael Finke (R-FR): Finke had 11 points in 29 minutes against Nebraska. But he still doesn't bring much on the glass or defensively. That's not a good sign with freshman standout Thomas Bryant on the docket.


Khalid Lewis (GR): Lewis was scoreless in 17 minutes on Saturday. He and Tate were outmatched by freshman Glynn Watson Jr. Illini fans may want to cover their eyes against Ferrell.

Maverick Morgan (JR): Morgan had four points in 15 minutes against Nebraska, but he went without a rebound. The junior big man has just six rebounds in 95 minutes of action during Big Ten play.

D.J. Williams (FR): After a pair of good showings, Williams took a step back against the Huskers. He was scoreless in seven minutes, and he missed a pair of threes. Those are not shots he should be taking.

Aaron Jordan (FR): Jordan had four points in nine minutes on Saturday. But he's been just 2-of-13 from the field during conference games.

Mike Thorne Jr. (GR): Groce said on Monday that Thorne has been practicing the last few days, and he could play against the Hoosiers on Tuesday night. Thorne has not played since tearing his meniscus against Iowa State in late November.

Alex Austin (R-JR): Austin played one minute against Nebraska, and he's played less than two minutes combined over the last two contests.

Cameron Liss (SO): Liss did not play on Saturday.

Indiana Starters

Yogi Ferrell (SR): Ferrell is a nightmare for the Illini defense with his quickness, court vision and ability to flat out score. He is averaging 17.1 points and 5.9 assists per game, while shooting a career-high 42 percent from three.

Robert Johnson (SO): Johnson has not lit it up in Big Ten play, but he is capable of doing a number of things well. He had 11 points, six rebounds and six assists in a blowout win over Ohio State. He's also shooting 48.3 percent from deep.

Troy Williams (JR): This 6-foot-7 forward is one of the best pure athletes in college basketball. Williams is an efficient finisher around the hoop, and he makes a big rebounding impact as well. He is averaging 12.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

Collin Hartman (JR): Hartman has been in the starting lineup for all five conference games after coming off the bench for most of December. He doesn't wow you with his numbers, but he is a glue guy who can hit threes.

Thomas Bryant (FR): Bryant has lived up to the hype coming in as a McDonald's All-American. He is averaging 12.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, while shooting a league-high 72 percent from the field. Bryant was a beast against Ohio State - totaling 18 points and 13 boards.

Three Things I'm Looking For

1. Provide some defensive resistance. The Illini made things look easy for Nebraska far too often on Saturday, as the Huskers shot over 53 percent from the field on their way to scoring 78 points. Nebraska is eighth in the conference in points per game. Indiana is an entirely different animal. The Hoosiers are averaging 85 points per game, which is first in the Big Ten and tied for ninth in the country. They are also fifth in the country by shooting 43.6 percent from beyond the arc as a team. That is a horrible combination considering the Illini are No. 315 in effective field goal percentage defense, and they are No. 325 in three-point field goal percentage defense. Illinois simply has to find a way to make plays at that end of the floor instead of allowing open threes and drives to the hoop. Ferrell is a big-time mismatch for the Illini point guards. Illinois has to hope that the Hoosiers have an off night shooting the rock, and that they can force some turnovers. Indiana has turned it over on more than 21 percent of their possessions.

2. Hill and Nunn have to be great. Purdue was the blueprint for how Illinois can beat good teams in the Big Ten. They have to play sound defense, limit the rebounding disadvantage and have their best players be the best players on the court. Hill and Nunn combined for 52 points in the upset win over the Boilermakers, while Coleman-Lands was the only other Illini player to score in double figures. The Nebraska game didn't provide the same result. Hill and Nunn had 32 points combined, which wouldn't be bad for most teams. But the Illini need them to be elite.

3. Compete like it's a rivalry game. The Illini will be faced with an unfavorable matchup in a very tough environment on Tuesday night. Illinois fans may not expect a win from their team. But they want to see them play inspired and with a high level of toughness in this rivalry game. The two worst teams in the Big Ten - Rutgers and Minnesota - played close with Indiana by keeping the final margin within single digits. The Illini have to be closer to that than their 25-point drubbing at Michigan State during their last road trip.


The Illini haven't won a game in Bloomington in more than six years. That doesn't look like it's going to change this season with how Indiana is rolling. They have a plethora of offensive firepower, and they've figured out how to play some defense as well. Hoosiers fans feel like their team can win the Big Ten title, while many Illini fans are bordering on wanting the season to be over.

Indiana 85, Illinois 72

Illini Inquirer Top Stories