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ILLINOIS vs INDIANA: Game preview, odds, how-to-watch, and more

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Will IU ring in the new year with a bang or a dud?

NCAA Basketball: Florida Atlantic at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info / How to Watch

Who? Indiana Hoosiers (11-2 (2-0), #27 KenPom) vs Illinois Fighting Illini (4-9 (0-2), #113 KenPom)

When? Thursday, 1/3/19 7 P.M., Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

Channel? FS1

Vegas? O/U 147.5, Hoosiers -12.5

KenPom Projection? Indiana by 13, 80-67

I just finished off a pair of smores pop tarts and a gatorade, so let’s talk Indiana basketball.

First, let’s recap these past few weeks for those who have been busy over the holiday season and haven’t been able to catch up on their IUBB news.

We last left off with IU proving why it’s called the Hoosier State when the Hoosiers took down Butler in dramatic fashion in Indianapolis. Afterwards, IU has only played two games against cupcakes Central Arkansas and Jacksonville, a pair of boring games that provided important anecdotes. The most important anecdote being the fact that Rob Phinisee suffered an injury that will see him out “for the forseeable future”.

On the bright side however, Juwan Morgan is not only making his case for First Team All-Conference, but has become the dark horse for B1G player of the year behind Ethan Happ and Carsen Edwards. This comes after Morgan dropped IU’s second triple-double in school history against Jacksonville. But with the non-conference cupcakes over, Indiana will look to take on the main course of a surprise B1G conference this year, although they resume conference play against a cupcake-esque opponent.

The Opponent

Illinois is easily the worst team in the B1G, and even made the bottom of our most recent conference power rankings. The Illini are coming off the epitome of brutality as they lost at home in overtime to the Owls of Florida Atlantic, and no, not the Lane Kiffin type of FAU either. The miserable season stretches back a ways as well including an 0-3 appearance in Maui and going a combine 4-7 in the non-conference plus two more losses against Nebraska and Ohio State. Despite all this, Illinois has some talent to watch out for this evening.

Trent Frazier is still getting done at the PG position with a solid 42.7 3P% and one of the best steal percentages in the conferences at 3.5%. Alongside Frazier is five-star Freshman Ayo Dosunmu on the wing, whose notable stats also include a 38.8 3P% and a steal percentage of 2.4%.

But how does this team fare in the four factors against Indiana?

Four Factors

Four Factors Illinois

- eFG% TO% Off. Reb % FT Rate
- eFG% TO% Off. Reb % FT Rate
INDIANA (#38 adj. offense) 58.8 (6th) 20.1 (240th) 26.0 (256th) 36.0 (114th)
ILLINOIS (#92 adj. defense) 52.3 (239th) 24.9 (6th) 32.4 (294th) 47.3 (341st)
- - - - -
ILLINOIS (#144 adj. offense) 49.9 (211th) 19.1 (185th) 29.7 (140th) 26.8 (306th)
INDIANA (#21 adj. defense) 45.6 (38th) 20.6 (100th) 26.3 (86th) 25.9 (25th)

The main factor that requires immediate attention is Illinois’ ability to force turnovers. The press defense has become a staple in Illinois game plan since Brad Underwood arrived in Champaign, ranking 6th in the nation. This doesn’t bode well for the Hoosiers as they rank 240th in KenPom in for offensive TO%. On top of all this turnover prone Devonte Green will likely be handling PG duties as Rob Phinisee is sidelined.

On the flipside, however, Green is one of the better passers on the team and if he can get the ball inside on consistent basis, the Hoosiers should have a field day. IU still ranks in the top 10 nationally for their eFG% and Illinois has struggled to keep their opponents from scoring inside as they’ve averaged an opponent 2P% of 53% so far this season.

Now let’s wrap this one up with the three keys to the game.

Three Keys

  • Let Chef BoyarGreen cook: Devonte Green is the main Hoosier spectators should keep their eyes on this evening. Yes, he’ll probably make some frustrating turnovers against a solid press D in Illinois, but if he’s able to get past that, I think IU fans will be in for a surprise performance from the Junior in the assist category.
  • MORE MORGAN: This could be Juwan Morgan’s best game of the year quite honestly. He appears to be improving game by game and should once again be a huge impact for IU. Like I said earlier in the Four Factors, IU and Morgan have shot incredibly well inside and Illinois has struggled to defend those kind of shots, I see a recipe for disaster for the Illini tonight.
  • Ayo Dosunm-who?: When I heard the news of Ayo Dosunmu heading to Illinois this past year, I was excited. I’ll be completely honest, Illinois being good in college basketball is good not only for the B1G, but for college basketball as a whole. So to see not only Illinois get a five star recruit but a Chicago kid on top of that, I couldn’t be happier. However, Dosunmu hasn’t posted anything too dazzling with 11.9 PPG and 4.6 RPG. Perhaps the team’s lackluster performance against FAU lights a fire.

Prediction

I have a feeling the cardiac kids strike again. I feel as though the absence of Phinisee is felt and that Illinois makes this one a three hour contest. However, Illinois is still a bad team and Juwan Morgan quite the opposite of bad, so IU wins another close one to stay undefeated in B1G play before a brutal stretch. FINAL SCORE: IU 65, ILLINOIS 60.