IU vs. Illinois

Hoosiers' first trip to Champaign in almost two years will be their biggest challenge of the season to this point, and they'll probably have to do it without the Big Ten's second leading scorer Bracey Wright. The top-ranked Illini will be looking for their 23rd straight win, their 19th straight in the Big Ten, and to continue an undefeated season. They trampled AP No. 10 Michigan State on Tuesday night. The Hoosiers are coming off a much needed win against Penn State on Wednesday.

Illinois has been at the head of the class all season, as one of only two unbeaten teams left in Division I. The Illini are led by one of the best backcourts in basketball, with Luther Head leading the team in scoring at 16.8 points per game, along with Deron Williams and Dee Brown both averaging over 13.0 points per game. The Illini have two other players averaging double-figures in scoring in forward James Augustine (10.3 ppg) and Roger Powell Jr. (12.8 ppg). Illinois is a phenomenal passing team, averaging 20 assists per game (good for 2nd in the nation) while turning the ball over only 11 times per game (4th in the nation). These numbers are due largely to the play of Williams (6.9 assists per game) and Brown (5.0 assists per game). Brown was the Big Ten preseason Player of the Year, and is the spark plug, keeping the pace fast and furious. Illinois also keeps a strong post presence, with Augustine being joined in the paint by 7'2" senior Nick Smith, who makes up for his lack of scoring by clogging up the middle on defense. Jack Ingram, at 6'10" and despite only averaging 4 points and 3 boards per game, has proven himself to be a threat from three-point range off the bench as he proved by knocking down a pair of big three's in their win at Wisconsin.

The key for the Hoosiers will be to control the pace of the game. Much like the game earlier in the season against North Carolina, IU will have to slow down the pace against a good running team. It will also be key to move well on defense and defend well on the perimeter, as the Illini shoot the long ball very well (1st in the Big Ten at .407). Without Wright, who claims that he "might surprise everybody and end up being out there on Sunday" at Illinois, the Hoosiers will need a big spark from back-up's like senior guard Ryan Tapak, who hit a big shot in Wright's absence against Penn State, and Roderick Wilmont, who can really provide a spark in transition with his athleticism as well as knock down the occasional three. The play of the IU's freshmen will also be key, as the Hoosiers will be starting at least three, and maybe four depending on who coach Mike Davis uses to replace Wright. Robert Vaden, D.J. White, and A.J. Ratliff have started and played well of late for the Hoosiers, as White is one of the leading candidates for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. IU will need to get the ball to White early and often, and try to get Augustine into early foul trouble, as Illinois is more likely to get beat down low than on the perimeter. IU's recent trend of poor outside shooting on the road will have to change if the Hoosiers expect to get out of Champaign with a win.

This game will be the 153rd match-up between the two schools, with Indiana holding the series lead at 78-74. However, Illinois has won four straight and five of the last six against the Hoosiers. Coach Mike Davis is 3-6 against Illinois, with the last win coming Jan. 18, 2003, in a 74-66 contest in Bloomington. The game will mark the 19th time IU has played a top-ranked team since the polls began in 1948. The Hoosiers are 5-19 all-time against No. 1 teams, but have never won on the road going 0-7.

The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS at 1:00 pm EST Sunday, with Ian Eagle doing play-by-play and Clark Kellogg on color commentary. As always, the game will be broadcast live on the IU Radio Network, with the legend Don Fischer on play-by-play and former Hoosier Todd Leary on color commentary. The Hoosiers are 10-9 on the season and at 5-3 are tied with Minnesota for fourth in the Big Ten.

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