Opponent Preview: Illinois

Minnesota looks to bounce back from a road loss to Michigan State when they host Illinois on Saturday night. Tip-off at Williams Arena is set for 7:00 p.m. and will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

Minnesota (12-1, 4-5) vs. Illinois (11-2)
Minneapolis, Minn. – Williams Arena
7:00 p.m. – BTN (Tom Hart, Jim Jackson)


"Being aggressive and just going at teams. We started out slow and were playing out of the loop. We had to start playing to win and going out and taking teams down like we're supposed to do and not letting them attack us first." – Minnesota freshman guard Joe Coleman on what has changed with his team, leading to three straight wins after an 0-4 start in the Big Ten

"We have to have great toughness when we go to Minnesota. It must be one of our better ball games. Minnesota is very solid. They had their backs to the wall, lost some close games early. They came back with some big wins. I thought they battled Michigan State very well, but Draymond Green was very special. It is tough to win at Michigan State." – Illinois head coach Bruce Weber on Minnesota


Coach Preview: Bruce Weber is in his ninth season as the head coach at Illinois, where he has compiled a 208-91 record. During his tenure in Champaign, Illinois in the 15th-winningest college program in the nation. Weber has guided the Fighting Illini to two Big Ten Championships and a runner-up finish in the NCAA Tournament. Prior to becoming the head coach at UI, Weber spent five years as the head coach at Southern Illinois.

Last Meeting: The Illini defeated the Gophers in double overtime in the Big Ten opener at the Assembly Hall, 81-72, on Dec. 27. Ralph Sampson III had a game-high 22 points to go along with nine rebounds. Meyers Leonard posted a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds for Illinois.

Series History: The two teams meet on Tuesday for the 167th time. Illinois holds a substantial advantage over Minnesota—leading the series 115-62. The Fighting Illini have won the last two contests in the series. Illini coach Bruce Weber has a 13-2 record against the Golden Gophers.

By the Numbers: 63 – Junior guard Brandon Paul has accounted for 60 of Illinois' 278 turnovers this year. Paul has a 0.95 assist-to-turnover ratio through 20 games this year, tallying 60 assists. Wisconsin point guard Jordan Taylor is a good example for Paul. Taylor has turned the ball over 63 times in 62 career Big Ten games.

Projected Starters:
G 13 Tracy Abrams (6-1, 185, Fr.) – 2.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg
G 1 D.J. Richardson (6-3, 195, Jr.) – 12.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg
G 3 Brandon Paul (6-4, 200, Jr.) – 14.0 ppg, 3.0 apg
G 2 Joseph Bertrand (6-5, 195, r-So.) – 7.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg
C 12 Meyers Leonard (7-1, 245, So.) – 13.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg

Top Reserves:
F 42 Tyler Griffey (6-8, 230, Jr.) – 5.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg
G 0 Sam Maniscalco (6-0, 180, Fr.) – 8.7 ppg, 2.7 apg

Location: Champaign, Ill.
Enrollment: 41,495
Conference: Big Ten
Nicknames: Fighting Illini
Colors: Illinois Blue & Illinois Orange
Head Coach: Bruce Weber (9th year)

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