HQ forecast: Illini 77, Colgate 58

HQ forecast: Illini 77, Colgate 58

Men's basketball beat writer Marcus Jackson breaks down Friday night's game against Colgate:

LINEUPS
Illinois
STARTERS
Pos.    Name    Yr.    Ht.    Wt.    PPG
G    Tracy Abrams    So.    6-1    185    4.3
G    D.J. Richardson    Sr.    6-3    195    11.6
G    Brandon Paul    Sr.    6-4    200    14.7
F    Sam McLaurin    Sr.    6-8    220    10.0
C    Nnanna Egwu    So.    6-11    235    1.9

FYI: Paul, a third-team All-Big Ten selection, was second to Trail Blazers’ Meyers Leonard for the team lead in rebounds last season, averaging 4.7 per game.

OFF THE BENCH
G    Joseph Bertrand    Jr.    6-6    195    6.5
F    Myke Henry    So.    6-6    230    3.2
F    Tyler Griffey    Sr.    6-9    220    4.9

Colgate
STARTERS
Pos.    Name    Yr.    Ht.    Wt.    PPG
G    Mitch Rolls    Sr.    6-0    170    8.6
G    Pat Moore    So.    6-5    186    9.9
F    Murphy Burnatowski    Sr.    6-7    230    0.0
F    Brandon James    Sr.    6-6    220    5.0
C    John Brandenburg    Sr.    6-11    263    5.2

FYI: Burnatowski sat out the 2011-12 season after transferring from Maine, where he was an American East Conference All-Rookie Team honoree and once scored 20 points against Penn State.

OFF THE BENCH
G    Luke Roh    So.    6-4    195    3.3
G    Chad Johnson    Jr.    6-3    209    0.9
F    Matt McMullen    So.    6-6    220    1.7

DETAILS
Site: The Assembly Hall, Champaign (16,618).

TV: BTN.com — Max Tane (play-by-play), Kyle Milnamow (color analyst) and Taylor Rooks (reports) call the action for the StudentU broadcast.

Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Jerry Hester (expert analysis) have the call on WDWS 1400-AM, WDAN 1490-AM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WDNL 102.1-FM and WPXN 104.9-FM.

Series: Illinois leads 3-0. Last meeting: Illinois 88-50 (Dec. 30, 1961, in Chicago).

FYI: Barnhart and Hester are entering their eighth season working together on the Fighting Illini Sports Network. Barnhart’s previous broadcast partner Stephen Bardo, another former Illini, is a television analyst with ESPN.

MARCUS JACKSON'S STORYLINES

1
After a rocky start, Tracy Abrams appears to have emerged as Illinois’ No. 1 option at point guard. The reigning team MVP returned to form with a 17-point, seven-rebound effort against West Chester. UI coach John Groce said Tuesday’s practice was one of the few bad ones the team has had, but Abrams individually continued to play well. “Sometimes you can try a little too hard, and he’s such a great kid and wants to do what you ask him to do that early on I think he was overthinking,” Groce said. “He’s come a long way and still has a long way to go, but we really like the progress that Tracy’s making.”

2
Colgate endured a rough 2011-12 season, going 8-22 overall and 2-12 in the Patriot League. But one thing the Raiders did well was light it up from the three-point line. Colgate was fourth in its conference and 23rd in the nation in three-point shooting percentage last season (38.4 percent), and its top two long-range shooters, Rolls (44 percent) and Moore (43 percent), are back. Guarding the three was a problem for the Illini last season. They finished 318th out of 345 nationally in three-point defense (37.9 percent).

3
Go 2 for 3 in baseball and you’re a legend. But 2 for 3 isn’t good enough for Groce when it comes to his team’s performances. Last week, two of Illinois’ three practices were what the coach considers good, quality practices. Then, the team went out and played well for about two-thirds of Sunday’s game. The big tell early in the season for Illinois is how it finishes games, and it starts tonight against a team whose RPI was right around 300 last season.

PREDICTION

Illinois 77, Colgate 58
Paul is on the preseason watch list for the John Wooden Award, and a big part of how Illinois fares this season will depend on how steady the senior plays. The Illini need more games from Paul like the Lewis exhibition (nine points, five assists) and fewer West Chesters (12 points, five turnovers, one rebound).

Comments

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bernies wrote on November 09, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Wow...MJ predicts an Illini win 77-58, and the final is 77-55!!