Preview: No.23 Illinois at Wisconsin

With National Signing Day behind us, the eyes of Badger Nation return back to the hardwood, as the eighth-place Wisconsin Badgers try to right the ship and break a six-game losing streak when they host No.23 Illinois Thursday night.

No.23 Illinois (18-4, 6-3 Big Ten) vs. Wisconsin (12-9, 3-6 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Thursday, Feb. 5 at 8:00 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,230)

Television - ESPN (Brent Musburger and Steve Lavin)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas)

Series – Illinois Leads 107-73

Last Meeting - Illinois won, 64-55, on January 24, 2009 in Champaign, Ill.

Wisconsin Probable Starters

1 Marcus Landry (Senior Forward, 12.8 ppg - averaging 13.7 ppg in Big Ten play)

3 Trevon Hughes (Junior Guard, 12.4 ppg - has scored in double figures in five straight games)

12 Jason Bohannon (Junior Guard, 10.6 ppg - has scored double figures in 13 of 31 games)

45 Joe Krabbenhoft (Senior Forward, 8.1 ppg - registered eighth career double-double at Illinois this season)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Sophomore Forward, 5.2 ppg - career-high 21 points and five threes against Purdue)

Off the Bench

11 Jordan Taylor (Freshman Guard, 1.8 ppg - 21.5 min, 5.5 pts and 2.8 asst. last four games)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Sophomore Forward, 3.1 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Sophomore Forward, 9.1 ppg - leads Big Ten scoring among non-starters)

33 Robert Wilson (Freshman Forward, 2.0 - has played in 19 of 21 games this season)

43 Kevin Gullikson (Senior Forward, 0.9 ppg - first career start at Iowa)

Illinois Probable Starters

1 Trent Meacham (Senior Guard, 10.4 ppg)

3 Chester Frazier (Senior Guard, 5.4 ppg)

24 Mike Davis (Sophomore Forward, 10.3 ppg)

32 Demetri McCamey (Sophomore Guard, 12.0)

54 Mike Tisdale (Sophomore Center, 11.6 ppg)

Off the Bench

13 Jeff Jordan (Sophomore Guard, 1.1 ppg)

23 Dominique Keller (Junior Forward, 6.3 ppg)

25 Calvin Brock (Senior Guard, 5.7 ppg)

33 Alex Legion (Sophomore Guard, 4.9 ppg)

First Meeting

After two straight overtime games, only regulation was needed this time out, as Illinois (17-3 overall, 5-2 Big Ten) defeated Wisconsin (12-7, 3-4) 64-57, sending the Badgers into a four game losing streak, their first since 2006 and the first time they've lost four straight conference games since 1998.

Demetri McCamey scored a game-high 25 points to lead the Fighting Illini, while Joe Krabbenhoft scored a career-high 16 points to pace the Badgers. Krabbenhoft also notched his eighth career double-double, as he also hauled in 12 rebounds. Illinois wasted no time grabbing the lead. After the second media timeout of the first half, the Illini went on an 11-2 run to push the score to 20-14 and went into halftime with a 32-25 cushion.

Making shots turned out to be Wisconsin's problem against Illinois. The Badgers only shot 35.6 percent from the field well the Illini connect on 50 percent of their field goals. In spite of that, the Badgers will try to take some positives out of being able to still rally at the end and show their toughness.

Last Time Out

The Wisconsin men's basketball team has gotten in some sort of funk and just can't seem to figure a way out.

The Badgers lost their sixth-consecutive game Saturday, failing to hold on to a late lead and dropping a close contest.

"This is life," Hughes said. "We gotta get it together. We're running out of time."

Craig Moore scored 26 points, including six key free throws in the final 15 seconds of the game, as Northwestern handed Wisconsin a 66-63 loss. Hughes led four UW scorers in double figures with 15.

The Badgers loss followed in a pattern that has become all too familiar for those who follow the team. Opposing players make the plays they need to to win, the Badgers don't.

It's that simple.

Wisconsin played solid offensively, but Northwestern had its way with the Wisconsin defense, scoring 66 points on just 52 possessions. For the second-straight game, UW allowed an opponent to shoot better than 60 percent from the field in a half. Northwestern made 10 of 15 shots it attempted in the first half.

Playing that poor of a defense leaves little room for error, but the Badgers committed 13 turnovers but were doomed again by hot shooting and struggles down the stretch.

Series Notes:

This is the 181st meeting between Wisconsin and Illinois in a series that dates back to 1906 with the Badgers own a 51-38 advantage in Madison

UW has won five of the last six meetings between the teams, including all three last season culminating in a 61-48 Wisconsin win in the 2008 Big Ten Tournament Championship Game

UW and Illinois rank 1-2 in the Big Ten in conference victories over the last eight seasons

Wisconsin Notes:

According to, Wisconsin is No. 37 in the latest RPI rankings. UW also owns the No. 3 strength of schedule. Only Georgetown and Tennessee have played tougher schedules.

The Badgers have played eight games against teams ranked in the AP top 25, which is the most in the nation. Connecticut, Georgetown and Notre Dame have also faced eight ranked foes this season.

Wisconsin has lost five consecutive games by an average of just 3.8 ppg. That streak has included backto- back overtime losses to Minnesota and Iowa and a one-point loss to Purdue last week. Overall this season, the Badgers are 4-5 in games decided by four or less.

Over the last three seasons Wisconsin has accumulated a 32-11 (.744) record in Big Ten play, the best in the conference. Purdue (30-12, .714) is second over that time span.

The Badgers are happy to have three of their next four games at home. Under Bo Ryan, Wisconsin is 15-7 at home vs. ranked teams. This season UW boasts a +10.4 scoring advantage at the Kohl Center this season. In home games this year, UW has also MADE more free throws (154) than its opponents have ATTEMPTED (134).

The Badgers have owned a lead in the final 3:00 of regulation in five of their last seven losses. UW has: led Texas with 2:43 to play, led Minnesota with 0:04 left, led at Iowa with 2:52 left, led Purdue with 1:02 remaining and led at Northwestern with 2:27 on the clock.

Wisconsin is 11-3 this season when out-rebounding its opponents, with the only losses coming at Iowa, at Illinois and at Northwestern. Overall, UW owns a +3.6 rebounds-per-game advantage in 2008-09, which ranks third in the Big Ten. The Badgers also lead the Big Ten in rebounding defense, allowing opponents a mere 28.3 total boards per game.

Illinois Notes:

Illinois' next win will register as the 250th victory of Bruce Weber's career. Now in his 11th year as a head coach, Weber owns a career record of 249-105, a 70.3 winning percentage. He entered 2008-09 with 231 victories, the eighth-highest win total in NCAA?history by a coach after his first 10 seasons.

With assists on 70.6 percent of its baskets this season, Illinois leads the nation in assist percentage. The Illini rank fourth in the NCAA?in assists, averaging 18.3 assists per game. Illinois, meanwhile, ranks fourth nationally with a team assist-to-turnover ratio of +1.45.

Clemson (Dec. 2) and Michigan (Jan. 4) are the only two teams to top 70 points and shoot better than 46 percent against the Illini this season.

Illinois leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 56.6 ppg.

Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten and is 38th in the NCAA?in field goal percentage, shooting 47.2 percent on the year.

After ranking last in the Big?Ten and in the bottom 10 nationally in free throw shooting last season, Illinois is third in the conference this year at 72.7 percent.

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