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Pregame blog: Illinois at Wisconsin

Lead basketball reporter Derek Piper gets you set for Illinois vs. Wisconsin at the Kohl Center on Sunday night.

10 minutes until tipoff

A familiar group of faces in the Illini starting lineup...

https://twitter.com/IlliniMBB/status/701562213996347393

20 minutes until tipoff

The Kohl Center has not been kind to the Illini of late. In fact, they have lost their last five trips here by an average of 18 points per game. In other words, Wisconsin has dominated Illinois like I dominated a few bottles of Budweiser last night on the UW campus. Hit up a spot called Kollege Klub. And no, I wasn't one of the oldest people there. Just had to say that for myself.

The Badgers are 11.5-point favorites tonight. Vegas knows what they're doing. They know that I haven't seen a road win from the Illini during my trips this year. My bad, guys.

The seats are starting to slowly fill up. I've heard this place gets pretty lowed. As Illini assistant Jamall Walker told me before the game, they've had a lot to cheer about.

30 minutes until tipoff

The Illini will break out the white throwback uniforms tonight to match Wisconsin's throwback reds. The Badgers have been wearing these jerseys throughout the month of February.

https://twitter.com/badgermbb/status/695645637681917952

Illinois is 0-3 when wearing throwback jerseys this season, and 2-4 wearing throwbacks under Groce. That is some advanced analytics for you.

On a recruiting note, Illini assistant coach Paris Parham was at the Simeon-Evanston game last night. Simeon won the matchup 55-43. Emerging 2017 point guard Evan Gilyard had nine points and three assists. Four-star combo guard Nojel Eastern had nine points, but he made just one of his first nine shots from the field.

40 minutes until tipoff

Hello and welcome from the Kohl Center. Lead basketball reporter Derek Piper here in Badger Land to get you set for tonight's action.

Illinois (12-14, 4-9) comes into this one with a chance to win back-to-back Big Ten games for the first time all season. But the Illini will have to break a bigger steak to get that done. They have lost their last nine games against Wisconsin (16-10, 8-5). Illini head coach John Groce is 0-6 against the Badgers during his tenure.

The Orange and Blue have not beaten Wisconsin since 2011. They've also lost their last five at the Kohl Center. The last Illini win up here came on Feb. 9, 2010, as Illinois point guard Demetri McCamey led the way with 27 points.

Back to this season. Illinois is coming off an 82-66 win last Tuesday against lowly Rutgers. Malcolm Hill stepped up with 22 points and 10 boards even on a bad hamstring. It seems like a long time since that night, though. On Thursday, the Illini introduced new athletic director Josh Whitman. And less than 24 hours later, Illini fans learned that sophomore forward Leron Black was arrested late Thursday night for threatening a bouncer with a knife.

On the Wisconsin side, they were riding a seven-game winning streak until they fell at Michigan State on Thursday. Still, this has looked like an entirely different Badger team that we saw just more than a month ago. At that time, it didn't look like the Badgers were destined for the NCAA tournament. But ESPN's Joe Lunardi currently has them slotted as a No. 9 seed.

More coming as we get closer to the tip.


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