IOWA CITY, Iowa - Three times this this season, Iowa won back to back Big Ten games. On each occasion, they failed to stretch the streak beyond that.
That's the goal Wednesday night when Illinois comes to Carver-Hawkeye Arena (8 p.m. CT, BTN). It's the only regular-season meeting between the two border rivals.
The Hawkeyes (17-10 overall, 8-6 Big Ten) blew out Big Ten bottom feeders, Rutgers and Nebraska, last week by an average of 31 points. That run followed up a pair of upset losses to Minnesota and Northwestern which came after successive impressive victories against Michigan and Maryland.
"You hope you learn from every up and down of a season," Iowa Senior Captain Aaron White said. "Good week, bad week, good week, another good week sounds good to me. There shouldn't be any complacency because we haven't really done anything. We won two games but let's win three. Let's make that happen and then go from there."
The Illini (17-10, 7-7) likely sit behind Iowa in the Big Ten hierarchy of NCAA Tournament candidates. The Hawkeyes are ranked No. 55 Tuesday's RPI while Illinois is 58.
Michigan State squeaked out a 60-53 decision in Champaign on Sunday. It represented the Illini's second loss in a row after they had won their previous four.
Leading scorer Rayvonte Rice (15.9 PPG) returned to action against the Spartans after missing nine games due to injury. Malcolm Hill (14.7) and Kendrick Nunn (11.5) also average double figures on a guard-oriented squad.
Starting Center Nnanna Egwu nets just 6.8 a contest but he's a difference maker on defense. The senior's 49 blocks rank third in the conference.
Statistically speaking, the teams are similar. Illinois (70.2 PPG) stands eighth in Big Ten scoring while the Hawkeyes (69.2) are ninth. Defensively, Iowa (61.5) is fourth and the Illini (63.0) seventh.
Illinois ruined the Hawkeyes Senior Day last March with a 66-63 win. Iowa won at the State Farm Center, 81-74, last February.