Illinois off to great start in the Big Ten

Illinois and Indiana will square off against one another on January 18th. The game will be big for both teams, but could be a must win for Indiana if they want to challenge early front-runner Illinois for the Big Ten title.

Illinois won a tough road game at Minnesota to start the Big Ten season. Sean Harrington carried Illinois with his hot outside shooting. Harrington shot 6-for-9 from three-point range, scoring 22 points overall. Brian Cook also played well scoring 25 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.

Minnesota's Williams Arena is one of the toughest places to play in the Big Ten, but the Fighting Illini were up for the challenge behind a strong performance from their bench.

Illinois starts three freshmen who looked like freshman against Minnesota. The Fighting Illini were playing only their second game on the road. Illinois' other road game was a loss 77-74 at Memphis.

Cook was too much for Minnesota to handle, something that has to worry Hoosier fans. Indiana has struggled against teams with good big men so far this year and Cook will be the best player they've faced yet. He is playing as well as anyone in the country right now.

Illinois pulled out another tough win 69-63 against Wisconsin yesterday, giving them two solid wins to start the conference schedule. Again they were lead by Cook who scored 24 of his 31 points in the second half. Every time Wisconsin started to make a run, Cook had an answer on the other end. Coach Bill Self said that Cook might be the best player he has ever coached.

Indiana could not keep pace losing at Ohio State. The Hoosiers have not looked good in their three road games so far this year, losing two of them. If Indiana falls to Illinois at Assembly Hall, then they will trail the Fighting Illini by another game and will still be on the road at Illinois on February 25th.

Illinois has the quickness in their backcourt to give Indiana problems. IU has struggled against quick penetrating guards all season and Illinois' combination of Dee Brown and Deron Williams is the quickest in the Big Ten.

So the upcoming game will be a big one. Indiana will need to find an answer for Illinois' quick guard play and the dominance of Brian Cook or they will have a long road towards obtaining the conference championship. Top Stories