College Basketball action on Saturday evening and a pair of teams from the Big 10 Conference will square off as the Northwestern Wildcats grapple with the Illinois Fighting Illini at State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois. The Illini took two of the three meetings between these teams last year. Illinois enters this game at 12-5 overall, including 4-2 within the Big 10 while the Wildcats are 1-5 in league play and 6-10 overall.
Back To Losing For The CatsThe Northwestern Wildcats are off to a rough 6-10 start to the year overall while going just 1-5 in league play. Not the start that Northwestern was hoping for. They recently won a home game against Nebraska by a score of 62-57 and that broke a five-game losing streak that the Cats were on. Well, it's back to losing as Northwestern enters this game off a 75-62 home loss to Iowa. It will be a long year for the Wildcats in the Big 10, especially if they can't get their offense going. Northwestern has averaged just 61.7 ppg in their six league games thus far and that could be a problem here as the Illini have scored plenty of points this year. Can the Northwestern score enough to win this one? We shall see.
The offense struggled to generate many points against a less than stellar Iowa defense in their last game as the Cats put up just 62 points on 36% shooting from the field overall, including 29% shooting from long range. Northwestern has not been a good shooting team overall and they have averaged just 66.5 ppg so far, which is 299th in the nation. Leading their attack was Miller Kopp, who had 15 points while Pete Nance had 11 points and 10 boards. The defense is what will have to lead them and they have allowed just 66.3 ppg so far, which is 106th in the land while also allowing just 68.3 ppg in league play. The Hawkeyes shot 47% from the field overall, including 45% from long range and they committed just seven turnovers. Their defense will have to play far better in this one. Northwestern is ranked 110th by KenPom and they have faced the 35th ranked schedule.
The Illini Are Playing Tough DefenseThis could be a nice game for the Illinois Fighting Illini as their defense has been off the charts of late and they are facing a struggling offensive team. Illinois is off a hard-fought 54-51 home win over Rutgers and they have now allowed just 59.2 ppg in league play so far, in including just 52.7 ppg in their last three. The Illini will look for another strong defensive effort as they are facing a Northwestern team that has averaged just 61.7 ppg in league play so far. The Illini come in at 4-2 within the Big 10 and 12-5 overall. Illinois has faced the 41st ranked schedule in the nation and KenPom has them ranked 30th. Illinois has missed the NCAA Tournament in each of the last six years. Could this be the year they end their drought? We shall see.
"We're really locked in defensively, as a team, and that has helped us get these Ws."— Illinois on BTN (@IllinoisOnBTN) January 13, 2020
Ayo Dosunmu (@AyoDos_11) chats with @TheAndyKatz about second-place and No. 24 @IlliniMBB. pic.twitter.com/QzTHk0Ej1Q
The offense did not play all that well against the Scarlet Knights as the Illini shot just 29% from the field overall and were just two of 14 from downtown. Not good numbers at all and they will be facing a pretty good northwestern defense in this one. Leading the way for Illinois was Ayo Dosunmu, who had 18 points while Kofi Cockburn had 11 points and 17 boards. The defense did play well as Rutgers shot just 34% from the field overall, including 35% from long range. The big difference in the game was that Illinois outscored Rutgers 16-3 at the charity stripe. Illinois comes in ranked 83rd in the nation in scoring at 75.9 ppg and 73rd in points allowed at 64.4 ppg.
Trends Are Courtesy Of Covers.com Northwestern is:
- 9-20 ATS in their last 29 road games
- 8-18 ATS in their last 26 road games vs. a team with a winning home record
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following an ATS loss
- 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a losing straight up record