Preview: Illinois vs. No.11 Wisconsin

Thanks to Illinois beating up on Michigan State, the Big Ten Conference is a race again. With both the Illini and the Badgers sitting at three losses a piece, No.11 Wisconsin hopes to thank Illinois by knocking them down a pedestal when the two teams meet in Madison Tuesday night.

Illinois (16-8, 8-3 Big Ten) vs. No.11 Wisconsin (18-5, 8-3 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Tuesday, February 9, at 6 p.m. Central

Arena – Kohl Center (17,230)

Television - Big Ten Network (Dave Revsine and Jimmy Jackson)

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

Series – Illinois Leads 107-74 (UW Leads 52-38 in Madison)

Last Meeting – Wisconsin won, 63-50, on Feb. 5, 2009 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

3 Trevon Hughes (Senior Guard, 15.5 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (Sophomore Guard, 10.0 ppg)

12 Jason Bohannon (Senior Guard, 11.1 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Junior Forward, 2.8 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Junior Forward, 8.8 ppg)

Off the Bench

5 Ryan Evans (Freshman Forward, 3.9 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Sophomore Forward, 3.5 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Freshman Forward, 1.0 ppg)

40 Jared Berggren (Freshman Center, 1.3 ppg)

Illinois Probable Starters

1 D.J. Richardson (Freshman Guard, 11.2 ppg)

30 Bill Cole (Junior Forward, 3.9 ppg)

32 Demetri McCamey (Junior Guard, 15.4 ppg)

42 Tyler Griffey (Freshman Forward, 3.4 ppg)

54 Mike Tisdale (Junior Center, 11.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Brandon Paul (Freshman Guard, 8.6 ppg)

13 Jeff Jordan (Junior Guard, 1.8 ppg)

23 Dominique Keller (Senior Forward, 5.8 ppg)

24 Mike Davis (Junior Forward, 10.7 ppg)

Last Meeting:

Wisconsin (13-9 overall, 4-6 Big Ten) snapped its six-game losing streak, defeating No.23 Illinois (18-5, 6-4) 63-50.

"That was a stretch there," Jason Bohannon said of the Badgers' losing streak. "There were a lot of games there we were right in it, just didn't pull it out. Tonight, we got a lot better."

Bohannon in particular got a lot better. The junior guard helped propel Wisconsin to its first win in almost a month by scoring a game-high 20 points, with all of his field goals coming from 3-pointers.

Bohannon's 6-for-7 (.857) from 3-point range is a Kohl Center record and the second highest in school history.

"We thought sooner or later Bohannon would get going," Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said. "We hoped it wouldn't be against us."

And Bohannon's outside shooting helped open everything open for the entire Wisconsin offense. He helped get the paint open for Marcus Landry and Jon Leuer, who scored 16 and 15 points, respectively. Both of them each hauled in six rebounds as well.

Unlike the games Wisconsin lost during its losing streak, the Badgers grabbed the lead early and were able to build upon it. With a 50 percent shooting percentage in the first half and Bohannon nailing his six five 3-pointers, Wisconsin was able to go into halftime with a comfortable 12-point lead at 37-25. The Badgers would extend their lead to as many as 17 when Bohannon hit his sixth 3-pointer with 17:02 remaining in the second half.

Behind a scrappy 14 points from Mike Davis and 12 from Demetri McCamey, Illinois would come back to hover around a deficit of 10 points. But for the first time since their last win, the Badgers were able to maintain their lead for good.

Last Time Out:

Bohannon scored 18 points to lead the hot-shooting Badgers to a 62-44 victory over Michigan on Saturday.

Trevon Hughes added 14 points and Jordan Taylor had 13 for the Badgers (18-5, 8-3 Big Ten), who were 9 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half in taking a 40-26 lead. The trio combined to go 7 of 9 from behind the arc in the opening 20 minutes.

"We did a tremendous job of finding the open guy," said Bohannon, who also had five assists. "And we shot the ball pretty well."

Hughes had 3-pointers at the start and end of a 14-0 run midway through the first half that gave Wisconsin a double-digit lead it held the rest of the way.

The Badgers missed just seven shots in the first half but cooled off in the second. It mattered little, however, as Michigan (11-12, 4-7) made just one field goal in the first 8 minutes and never got closer than 12 points the rest of the game.

Series Notes:

Tonight's game will mark the 182nd meeting between UW and Illinois in a series dating back to 1906

UW has won six of the last seven meetings between the teams, including all three in 2008 and a season split in 2009

Wisconsin has won seven of its last nine meetings with Illinois at the Kohl Center

UW (102) and Illinois (94) rank first and third, respectively, in the Big Ten in conference victories over the last nine seasons.

Wisconsin Notes:

The Badgers have won 19 games or more in each of Bo Ryan's first eight seasons at Wisconsin. UW needs one more win to extend that streak to nine years. Ryan's teams have reached the 20-win plateau six times in eight seasons. Prior to Ryan's arrival in Madison, UW had a TOTAL of just four 20-win seasons in 103 years of basketball.

In the first eight seasons under Ryan, UW has earned five Big Ten championship rings (2002, 2003, 2008 regular season, 2004, 2008 tournament), equaling the most of any school in the conference over that span. Illinois and Ohio State also have five, while Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State and Purdue each have one.

Seniors Jason Bohannon and Trévon Hughes have been a part of 99 victories in their four seasons at UW. The school record for career wins is 105, held by the Class of 2008 (Brian Butch, Michael Flowers, Greg Stiemsma and Tanner Bronson).

Since Jon Leuer's injury, junior Keaton Nankivil has emerged as one of UW's go-to contributors. Through the first four Big Ten games, Nankivil posted 4.75 points, 4.75 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game and did not shoot a single free throw. However, over the last seven games the 6-foot-8 forward has averaged 12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.9 blocks, 1.0 steal and is 10-for-12 at the line. He is shooting .540 from the field over that span.

Illinois Notes:

Illinois carries a season-long four-game winning streak into Tuesday night's game at Wisconsin. It is the third time this year the Illini have won four consecutive games.

After shooting 39.5 percent (145-367) from the field over a six-game stretch from Jan. 2-19, Illinois has shot better than 50 percent in three of the last five games, combining to shoot 50.8 percent (128-252) over those five games.

Illinois leads the Big Ten (conference games) in field goal percentage defense (.390)?while ranking second in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.297). The Illini led the league in both categories last year.

In its 16 wins, Illinois' offense is averaging 78.6 points (1,257) on 49.1 percent shooting (423-861) and 17.9 assists (286), while in eight losses, the offense is averaging 69.1 points (553)?on 39.6 percent shooting (201-508) and 14.1 assists (113).

Worgull's Prediction

Wisconsin has seen plenty of top guards in the Big Ten Conference this season (Kalin Lucas, Robbie Hummel, Manny Harris, etc.) and shut them all down for the most part this season. Now, the Badgers will have to try and put the clamps on Demetri McCamey, who assistant coach Gary Close calls one of the strongest players in the Big Ten.

McCamey tallied his eighth 20-point game of the season with 22 points against Michigan State. He has 15 career 20-point games and can find the open man, as his career-high 11 assists against the Spartans can attest.

McCamey is the key to the Illini. He has accounted for nearly 49 percent of Illinois' offense in Big Ten play, and his combined scoring (15.4 ppg) and assists (6.4 apg) total of 21.8 ranks 13th among players from the six major conferences who rank among their league leaders in both categories.

After an up-and-down season, Illinois is starting to find some traction after knocking off Michigan State at home. Of course, that was without Kalin Lucas. This is a critical stretch for Illinois, who plays its second of four straight ranked opponents. McCamey hasn't seen a defense quite like Wisconsin's attack, and that has to benefit the Badgers. UW is on a roll, and will win this second-place battle by 10.

Worgull's Record: 18-5

Points off Prediction: 248 (10.8 per game)

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