Preview: No.15 Wisconsin vs. Illinois

Wisconsin is trying to improve its NCAA Tournament seed while Illinois is fighting to get off the tournament bubble. After the Fighting Illini stole a victory in the Kohl Center, the fifteenth-ranked Badgers hope to return the favor in Champaign on Sunday.

No.15 Wisconsin (22-7, 12-5 Big Ten) vs. Illinois (18-12, 10-7 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Sunday, March 7, at 1:00 p.m. Central

Arena – Assembly Hall (16,618)

Television - ESPN (Dave O'Brien and Steve Lavin)

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

Series – Wisconsin Leads 108-74 (UI Leads 67-19 in Champaign)

Last Meeting – Illinois won, 63-56, in Madison, Feb. 9, 2010

Wisconsin Probable Starters

3 Trevon Hughes (Senior Guard, 15.4 ppg)

11 Jordan Taylor (Sophomore Guard, 9.9 ppg)

12 Jason Bohannon (Senior Guard, 12.3 ppg)

30 Jon Leuer (Junior Forward, 14.6 ppg)

52 Keaton Nankivil (Junior Forward, 8.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

5 Ryan Evans (Freshman Forward, 3.4 ppg)

24 Tim Jarmusz (Junior Forward, 2.8 ppg)

31 Mike Bruesewitz (Freshman Forward, 1.2 ppg)

33 Rob Wilson (Sophomore Forward, 3.4 ppg)

Illinois Probable Starters

1 D.J. Richardson (Freshman Guard, 10.5 ppg)

24 Mike Davis (Junior Forward, 10.4 ppg)

30 Bill Cole (Junior Forward, 4.3 ppg)

32 Demetri McCamey (Junior Guard, 15.1 ppg)

54 Mike Tisdale (Junior Center, 11.5 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Brandon Paul (Freshman Guard, 8.2 ppg)

13 Jeff Jordan (Junior Guard, 1.5 ppg)

23 Dominique Keller (Senior Forward, 4.8 ppg)

42 Tyler Griffey (Freshman Forward, 3.1 ppg)

Last Meeting:

McCamey turned in a brilliant shooting performance with a game-high 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting and Tisdale made 8-of-11 shots for 19 points, as Illinois boosted its tournament resume with an impressive 63-56 upset over No.11 Wisconsin Tuesday.

The juniors were the only means of offense for Illinois (17-8, 9-3 Big Ten), scoring 46 of the Illini's 62 points, but it never seemed to matter against a Wisconsin defense that had suffocated opposing team's offense, allowing just 53.7 points per conference game, tops in the league.

With Illinois second in the league in conference scoring (69.2 ppg), Tisdale knocked down virtually every open look he received on the perimeter and every hook shot he threw in over Nankivil.

McCamey scored 16 of his 27 points in the first half, but was just as vital in the second half, including a mini four-point run midway through the second half that took away the lead from Wisconsin for good.

Even though no other Illinois player scored over nine points, the Fighting Illini shot 53.3 percent from the floor, and Wisconsin (18-6, 8-4 Big Ten) still had a bevy of opportunities to take control of the game, and its fate for the remainder of the Big Ten race, late in the contest. Although the Badgers tied the game at 53, Wisconsin watched as Illinois closed the game on a 10-3 run, ending UW's 18-game home court winning streak.

Last Time Out:

The seniors got it started, scoring 12 of UW's first 16 points, and Leuer kept it going, as his game-high 18 points helped No.15 Wisconsin fuel an 18-0 run that was the difference in a blowout victory over Iowa, 67-40, Wednesday night.

Although Wisconsin (22-7, 12-5 Big Ten) is no longer in the running for a share of the Big Ten title, the victory clinched at least a fourth place finish for the ninth straight season under Bo Ryan and kept alive the chance for the Badgers to clinch the third seed for the league tournament, doing so by man-handleding a young, inexperienced Iowa team.

Wisconsin shot 54.9 percent (28-of-51) from the floor, 50 percent (6-of-12) from three-point range, held Iowa (10-20, 4-13) to 40 points (a season-low for a UW opponent) and watched as its two seniors didn't disappoint on their night.

Hughes, with his mom watching him for the first time in person, finished 15 points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block.

Bohannon finished one rebound shy of his first career double-double (11 points, nine rebounds) and is averaged 17.4 points while shooting 61 percent from the floor in his last eight games.

Leuer, starting his second straight game, made his presence known on both ends of the floor. His 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting were his most since scoring 21 points against Michigan State on January 6 and his mini 10-point run in the first half turned the game into a laugher well before halftime.

But just as opportunistic as he was offensively, Leuer again was a dominant post presence, registering five rebounds and three blocks, a big reason the Hawkeyes went scoreless for 7 minutes, 39 seconds during UW's first-half run.

Series Notes:

UW has won six of the last eight meetings between the teams, but Illinois won the first meeting this season, handing the Badgers their only home loss on the year

Illinois has not swept a home-and-home season series vs. Wisconsin since winning all three games in 2005

The Badgers and Illini last met in a regular-season finale in 2003 when 24th-ranked UW pulled out a 60-59 win over No. 14 Illinois.

Wisconsin could face Illinois in the 4 vs. 5 game of the Big Ten tournament on Friday. Once before UW has played the same team in the regular-season finale and its first tournament game, beating Michigan State in back-to-back games on March 3 and March 9, 2007.

Wisconsin Notes:

Wisconsin - which did not receive a single vote in the preseason polls - is ranked No. 15 in the AP poll and No. 17 in the ESPN/USA Today top 25 poll. The Badgers are No. 12 in the latest Sagarin ratings and No. 18 according to InsideRPI.

UW has won three straight regular-season finales and is 7-1 in the regular season's final game under Bo Ryan.

Wisconsin has clinched a first-round bye at the 2010 Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Wisconsin can finish no lower than the No. 4 seed and can earn the No. 3 seed with a win over Illinois and a Michigan St. loss.

With a win at Illinois, UW would reach 13 Big Ten wins for just the third time in school history, having also won 13 in 2007 and claiming 16 conference wins in 2008.

Sunday's regular-season finale at Illinois is Bo Ryan's 150th career Big Ten game since taking over at Wisconsin in 2001. During his tenure, UW owns a 106-43 (.711) Big Ten record, which is tops in the conference. His .711 winning percentage is also the second-best mark of any coach in conference history (behind Bob Knight) through his first 149 games.

The Badgers are a perfect 15-0 this season when shooting a higher field goal percentage than their opponents. Interestingly, UW is 7-7 in games when the opponent posts a higher FG percentage. The Badgers were 6-11 when being out-shot last season.

Illinois Notes:

Over its final eight regular season games, the Illini play six ranked teams, all of which are in the Top 15 of the Associated Press poll. Illinois is the only team in the country to face six ranked teams over its final eight regular season games. This is the first time in school history that Illinois concludes the regular season with six of eight games against AP Top-15 teams.

Illinois has earned its sixth top-five Big Ten finish in Bruce Weber's seven seasons. The Illini enter Sunday's game vs. Wisconsin aiming for their 11th Big Ten win, trying to reach at least 11 wins in conference play for the fifth time under Weber.

McCamey leads the Big Ten and ranks second in the nation in assists (all games) with an average of 6.9 apg. He is challenging the Illinois single-season assists record of 6.8 apg set by Deron Williams in 2005.

Illinois' four leading scorers on the season are in double figures, averaging between 10.4 and 15.1 points.

Worgull's Prediction

Is it the level of competition the Badgers have faced the last two games or is it the new spunk in the starting lineup? Hard to answer for sure, but the Badgers have beaten Indiana and Iowa by an average of 29.5 points in those two wins, getting plenty of production from Leuer in the paint and from the perimeter.

The Illini whamboozled the Badgers in the second half in Madison by a) shutting down the paint b) having McCamey and Tisdale shoot the lights out and c) watching as the Badgers' good looks from the perimeter couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. Illinois needs all three of those to happen again to pull out a victory.

I would love to see Wisconsin in that four/five game having just registered a quality win over Illinois. However, it would be great to see Sparty tumble and the Badgers get some potential revenge against Minnesota. In order for that to happen, Wisconsin has to do its part and by the way the players regretted the open looks McCamey got last time, the Badgers will be ready and will squeak out a six-point decision.

Worgull's Record: 22-7

Points off Prediction: 306 (10.5 per game)


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