Illinois @ Indiana: A Preview

There is no denying that Indiana relies heavily on senior transfer Marco Killingsworth, but they are much more than just the big man. Killingsworth is getting all of the attention from the Illini-friendly media in this match up between Illinois and Indiana, but IlliniBoard.com believes the key to defeating the Hoosiers in Bloomington is to slow down the Hoosiers perimeter game.

When IlliniBoard.com unveiled its First and Second All Underrated Big Ten teams, two names were on the first team that Illinois will be seeing on Tuesday night: Marshall Strickland and Robert Vaden. Both Strickland and Vaden have flown under the radar from various reasons, but they have been keys to the Hoosiers success this season providing that outside attack to match up with Killingsworth on the inside. Combine Strickland and Vaden with Lewis Monroe, and you probably have the best backcourt Illinois has seen so far this season.

With DJ White out, probably for the season, Indiana starts a three guard lineup that will give the Illini problems matching up defensively. With Strickland, Monroe, and sophomore AJ Ratliff starting at the guards, that slips Robert Vaden into your traditional four spot. Vaden at the four is a match up nightmare for the Illini, especially to start out the game. Vaden will have the speed and quickness advantage over James Augustine. The smart move for the Hoosiers would be to exploit this match up early and often in the hopes of finding James Augustine picking up some quick fouls and finding him watching the majority of the game on the bench. The more Indiana looks to the Vaden / Augustine match up, the more likely it is Bruce Weber will counter with Illinois going small itself by sliding in either Chester Frazier or Jamar Smith as the third guard and slipping Brian Randle to the power forward to match Vaden's athleticism.

Even with the favorable match up at the four spot with Vaden, Indiana will not completely forget about Marco Killingsworth and he will get his standard 12.5 shots per game. Killingsworth is only 6'8" so Shaun Pruitt will have the height advantage, but Killingsworth will have the advantage in both strength and experience. Defensively, the Illini have normally double teamed a strong post presence with the opposite big man, but with Augustine guarding Vaden, who will most likely be on the perimeter, Illinois may need to double Killingsworth with a guard or just try to stay behind him and use size to frustrate him. There is no doubt Killingsworth will get his, but for Illinois to come out of Bloomington victorious, they need to limit the Hoosiers three-point shooting.

With many defenses focusing on Marco Killingsworth, the Indiana guards have been able to enjoy open looks from behind the three point line all season. In Indiana's two losses this season to Duke and Indiana State, the Hoosiers only combined to shoot 8-for-33 from behind the line (24.2%) well below their season average of 47.4%, which leads the nation. These two games give the blueprint on how to defeat the Hoosiers, lock down the perimeter and turn them into a one-dimensional team. Killingsworth became an ESPN darling with his 34 point and 10 rebound performance against Duke in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge, while against Indiana State 6'10" freshman Ben Allen scored 21 points and pulled down 7 rebounds.

INDIANA BY THE NUMBERS
Tempo (Pace): 70.7 possessions / 40 minutes
Offensive Efficiency: 113.3 (12th in the nation)
Defensive Efficiency: 94.3 (69th in the nation)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: 61.6 (1st in the nation)
Effective Field Goal Percentage (Defense): 46.9% (76th in the nation)

ILLINOIS BY THE NUMBERS
Tempo (Pace): 66.4 possessions / 40 minutes
Offensive Efficiency: 109.9 (37th in the nation)
Defensive Efficiency: 85.8 (6th in the nation)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: 53.0 (50th in the nation)
Effective Field Goal Percentage (Defense): 42.8% (10th in the nation)

These numbers were gleamed from Ken Pomeroy's Stats Page.


Illini Inquirer Top Stories