Preview: Northwestern vs. Illinois, 8 p.m. today

Preview: Northwestern vs. Illinois, 8 p.m. today

Lineups

Illinois (11-20)

Starters

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Trent Frazier So. 6-1 13.6 Wellington, Fla.

G Ayo Dosunmu Fr. 6-5 14.1 Chicago

G Da'Monte Williams So. 6-3 3.5 Peoria

G Aaron Jordan Sr. 6-5 8.1 Plainfield

F Giorgi Bezhanishvili Fr. 6-9 12.1 Rustavi, Georgia

FYI: While backup guard Andres Feliz dropped a career-high 26 points (plus five rebounds, three assists and three steals) on Northwestern in the teams' last meeting, Dosunmu was the most consistent of the Illini in the regular-season series. The All-Big Ten Freshman Team selection averaged 15 points, five rebounds and 3.5 assists in his two games against the Wildcats.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Andres Feliz Jr. 6-2 8.5 Guachupita, D.R.

G Alan Griffin Fr. 6-5 2.9 Ossining, N.Y.

F Kipper Nichols R-Jr. 6-6 5.9 Cleveland

Northwestern (13-18)

Starters

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

F Vic Law R-Sr. 6-7 15.0 South Holland

G Anthony Gaines So. 6-4 7.0 Kingston, N.Y.

G Ryan Taylor Gr. 6-6 10.0 Gary, Ind.

F Miller Kopp Fr. 6-7 4.7 Houston

C Dererk Pardon Sr. 6-8 13.9 Cleveland

FYI: Kopp had one of his best games of the season when the Illini and Wildcats played on March 3 at State Farm Center. He hit a pair of three-pointers and scored in double figures (13 points) for just the second time this season. Kopp also had 17 points in a Dec. 17 blowout win against Chicago State.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G A.J. Turner R-Jr. 6-7 8.3 Mt. Clemens, Mich.

G Ryan Greer Fr. 6-2 1.6 Atlanta

F Aaron Falzon R-Jr. 6-8 3.4 Newton, Mass.

Details

Site: United Center (23,500), Chicago

Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Deon Thomas (analysis) will have the call on the Illini Sports Network on WDWS 1400-AM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WDAN 1490-AM, WDNL 102.1-FM and WPXN 104.9-FM.

TV:Brandon Gaudin (play-by-play), Shon Morris (analysis) and Mike Hall (sideline reports) will have the call on BTN.

Series history: Illinois leads 135-42.

Last meeting: Illinois won 81-76 on March 3 in Champaign.

FYI: Illinois and Northwestern last met in the Big Ten tournament in the 2004-05 season. James Augustine put up 15 points and eight rebounds as the Illini got back on track with a 68-51 win that followed their loss in the regular-season finale to Ohio State that snapped a 32-game winning streak. Illinois won the Big Ten tournament that season, of course, and went on to play for a national title.

Scott Richey's storylines

Starting over in Chicago

There's no missing Illinois coach Brad Underwood's sense of excitement about this year's Big Ten tournament. The Illini have emerged from the inaugural 20-game Big Ten grind carrying their share of ups and downs — from an 0-5 start to conference play, a stretch of five wins in six games, including a pair of Top 25 upsets, and more recently, five losses in six games to end the regular season. "All that gets put to bed," Underwood said. "There's a different air about a conference tournament. It's consecutive games on consecutive days. Fan involvement and excitement is really a lot of fun. It only takes a little bit of a wave to create a tidal wave. That's really what makes this tournament special."

Addressing the turnovers 

As much trouble as Illinois has caused its opponents defensively, forcing 16.1 turnovers per game this season, the Illini have mostly been able to hold on to the ball — or at least win the turnover battle. Illinois' 18 turnovers in Sunday's regular season finale loss at Penn State, however, was its most since committing 21 on Jan. 3 in a loss at Indiana. "Can't turn the ball over," Underwood said. "Things traditionally slow down in postseason play. Your offense has to help your defense. You can't give other teams baskets simply by turning it over."

Will Law play tonight

A nasty collision with Purdue guard Carsen Edwards cut Vic Law's final game at Welsh-Ryan Arena short. The Northwestern redshirt senior had to be helped off the court with just less than 9 minutes to play, and he didn't return. Will he play today against Illinois? "The good news is there wasn't any serious damage that was done with the injury," Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. "It was scary looking at the time, and there was an open wound on his shin. We were all a little bit nervous to see what was wrong because he was in so much pain. ... He's pretty sore, as everybody could imagine. We're hoping with treatment and a couple days he'll be ready to go (today), but nothing is given. I'd say he's very much questionable for the game."

Prediction

Illinois 77, Northwestern 72 

Northwestern has struggled this season with a healthy Law. His uncertain status could be a serious advantage for Illinois. However, if the Wildcats shoot even marginally better from three-point range than they did a week-and-a-half ago in Champaign, the Illini could be in trouble and looking at a premature end to their season. (N-G prediction record: 22-9)

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