STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW
WHO? ILLINOIS (9-9, 1-4, 12th in Big Ten) AT INDIANA (15-3, 5-0, 1st)
WHERE? Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
WATCH? ESPN, WatchESPN, ESPN3.com
WHEN? 7pm, tonight.
VEGAS? Indiana, -11.5
POMEROY? Indiana with 88% chance of victory, likes Hoosiers 84-71.
"I DON'T KNOW WHO THIS *TEAM* IS"
Indiana. Illinois. Remember what this used to be?
Indiana-Purdue, Michigan State-Michigan, whoever else you'd like to name. Nothing came remotely close. There was a period less than ten years ago where the conference's marquee, most vitriolic rivalry were the two yearly matchups between Indiana and Illinois. Yet, how far it's fallen since.
Bob Knight. Lou Henson. Kelvin Sampson. Bruce Weber. Deron Williams. Eric Gordon. I don't know who that is. The ice-throwing. The recruit-stealing. For roughly a few short years from 2005 to 2007, I've never hated a team like I hated a team like I hated Bruce Weber's Illinois teams of the mid-2000s. Will Leitch had Bob Knight's face on his dartboard growing up in Illinois. This feeling was seemingly mutual -- and both teams were, largely, good.
It was awesome.
Since that time, the flames of one of the Big Ten's best rivalries have seemingly dissipated. Both programs have replaced the two coaching catalysts of that era's hate and have gone through college basketball's desert of mediocrity since. Indiana first experienced this fall much more greatly in the late 2000s. Today, John Groce is in his fourth season at Illinois and rolling toward landing the Illini in the NIT or worse for the third straight year, sitting at 9-9 on the year and 1-4 in conference play. Groce, a native Hoosier from Muncie, is a likeable relatable figure for most Indiana fans. Tom Crean is, well, not Kelvin Sampson. The recruiting thievery, clashing coaches, and mutual success no longer exist between the border schools. It's hardly a rivalry recognizable to the one that predated it just eight or nine years ago.
In a conference that has often seen a valuable and healthy mutual respect between top programs in recent years, the Big Ten needs the best cross-border basketball rock fight back. Everything's better when Indiana and Illinois hate the heck out of each other, and they're doing it at the top of the conference.
For now, we'll have to settle for a matchup unrecognizable from past iterations.
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (Offense)||60.5 (2) ||21.2 (317)||38.8 (14)||35.2 (200)|
|ILLINOIS (Defense)||54.1 (315)||19.0 (133)||27.4 (71)||27.1 (23)|
|INDIANA (Defense)||48.8 (111)||20.8 (51)||30.3 (174)||29.6 (48)|
|ILLINOIS (Offense)||51.0 (112)||13.7 (2)||22.2 (335)||32.4 (273)|
Hooooooooooooooooo boy look at those eFG% numbers when Indiana has the ball. Only one team in the country shoots the ball more effectively than Indiana, and there are few teams that allow teams to shoot the ball more effectively than Illinois. Consider that the majority of Indiana's hot shooting nights have come at home, and the numbers would seem to indicate that the Hoosiers are primed to shoot the lights out in Assembly Hall tonight.
What could get in the way of that? Well, Indiana's problem has been when they don't get to shoot the ball. Few teams turn the ball over at a higher rate than Indiana does, and only one team in the country turns the ball over less frequently than Illinois does. What does that mean? Simply stated, more possessions to attempt shots for Illinois. While Illinois' turnover-creation rate is pedestrian at best, they'll have a crack to overcome the likely gulf in eFG percentages on Indiana's home floor if the Hoosiers give the ball away often.
On the whole, John Groce's team isn't particularly good at shooting, or defending, or rebounding, or creating turnovers. They're just, well, very good at not giving the ball to you.
TL;DR: It's unlikely that this Illinois could beat this Indiana team in Bloomington without help from the Hoosiers. Problem is, Indiana's among the nations' best when it comes to self-inflicted turnover damage.
- Indiana fans should be familar with Illinois freshman Jalen Coleman-Lands, the former Cathedral & LaLu guard. He is an Indiana kid playing Indiana at Indiana. He will score 30 tonight.
- Illinois' big man Mike Thorne, Jr. (13 ppg, 8 rpg) might be ready to return for the Illini tonight. He's missed 11 games after tearing his meniscus against Iowa State on November 28.
- Our Jacob Rude wrote on Troy Williams' growth and evolution -- and what his continued progression means for Indiana heading into the meat of the Big Ten schedule.
- Ben Raphel has Illinois 12th in our latest power rankings.
- Put UConn in the dang Big Ten.