HQ prediction: UI 71, Butler 70

Beat writer Marcus Jackson tries to end the Maui Invitational on a two-game win streak:

Illinois 71, Butler 70
(9 p.m., ESPN)

Brad Stevens was rumored to have been targeted for the Illinois job that eventually went to John Groce. That stuff won’t matter once the ball is tipped. What matters is that college basketball players aren’t used to playing back-to-back, much less three games in a row. And when Illinois’ regulars started to show some fatigue in Tuesday’s win against Chaminade, Joseph Bertrand, Myke Henry and Devin Langford gave the team a lift. “Those guys gave us a lot of energy off the bench when a couple of our starters didn’t have it consistently energy-wise,” Groce said. “They were up and down throughout the game, but I thought those guys gave us a huge boost.” In a toss-up game against a tough, disciplined Butler squad, it could come down those guys with the fresh legs. (N-G record 4-1). 

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geriatricillini wrote on November 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm

If you are correct, this will make my holiday...but only until the next game. We are a 2.5 favorite in this one at the moment...looks like one no one can figure this out in the betting arena...can we get the 'dogs?

penniless wrote on November 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm

 


Groce deserves last night game ball.All the bench players fit perfectly in the rotaton.I'm  thinking double numers  Illini   77   Butler  66   Illini bench by far stronger tested.

aaeismacgychel wrote on November 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Dangerous game for us and I'm not all that optimistic. Butler is very good in areas that have been weaknesses this year, especially in terms of their toughness on the glass and tenacity on defense. Hawaii played a very physical game against us, and I would expect an even higher level of that tonight. Butler also can drain the three at will if they get even a tiny amount of space, and they do a good job on backdoor cuts and "Northwesterning" it up that has the misdirection that can take advantage of a young bigs. Butler certainly is not a good matchup at all for us. But, that said, they do have a style of play similar to a Wisconsin or MSU so this will be a very good test for us tonight and will certainly give us a lot more insight into how the season will progress. Before the Butler-UNC game, I thought we matched up a lot better with UNC. After the game, I'm sure of it. I certainly am hoping and cheering for a win, but Butler's a sound team fundamentally, and they match up well against us.

OKOMIS wrote on November 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I think these seniors know what’s it’s like not making the tournament in March… and how a win tonight can be the difference between an NCAA or NIT bid…