Sneak peek: No. 12 Illinois at Wisconsin, 1:15 p.m. today
Illinois (14-3, 1-2 Big Ten)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Tracy Abrams So. 6-1 12.2
G D.J. Richardson Sr. 6-3 10.8
G Brandon Paul Sr. 6-4 18.6
F Tyler Griffey Sr. 6-9 8.2
C Nnanna Egwu So. 6-11 6.7
FYI: Abrams already has scored 72 more points than he did all of last season in 204 fewer minutes played.
OFF THE BENCH
G Joseph Bertrand Jr. 6-6 9.1
F Sam McLaurin Sr. 6-8 3.8
F Myke Henry So. 6-6 3.5
Wisconsin (11-4, 2-0 Big Ten)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Ben Brust Jr. 6-1 11.3
G Traevon Jackson So. 6-2 4.7
F Ryan Evans Sr. 6-6 11.5
F Mike Bruesewitz Sr. 6-6 7.2
C Jared Berggren Sr. 6-10 13.3
FYI: Berggren leads the Big Ten with 32 blocked shots this season, and his 102 career swats rank fourth in Wisconsin history.
OFF THE BENCH
G George Marshall Fr. 5-11 5.2
F Sam Dekker Fr. 6-7 9.1
F Frank Kaminsky So. 6-11 4.9
Site: The Kohl Center (17,230), Madison, Wis.
TV: BTN — Brian Anderson (play-by-play) and former Badger Mike Kelley (analyst) have the call.
Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Jerry Hester (expert analysis) have the call on the Illini Sports Network on WDWS 1400-AM, WDAN 1490-AM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WDNL 102.1-FM and WPXN 104.9-FM.
Series: Illinois leads 110-77. Last meeting — Wisconsin 70, Illinois 56, March 4, 2012.
FYI: Illinois has won three games in Madison during Bo Ryan’s 12 years with the Badgers, the most by any Big Ten opponent.
Marcus Jackson’s Storylines
Tyler Griffey went scoreless for the first time this season in Wednesday’s loss to Minnesota, leaving coach John Groce a bit disappointed. The coach wasn’t upset that the senior missed both shots he took, rather that he didn’t take more. “I want him to shoot it. I don’t care if he misses it; he’s not trying to miss. He’s a 40-some percent three-point shooter,” Groce said. “I thought he turned down about three or four of them. I thought he should have got off more than what he got off. We’ll take a look at it.”
Illinois wants to play fast. Wisconsin prefers a more deliberate pace to the game with as few possessions as possible. Whichever team is able to dictate the pace of play likely will be the one with the upper hand today. “The reality of it is it’s hard to speed them up; they handle the ball so well,” Groce said. “If you gamble, then you become undisciplined, and they make you pay. They may want a game with a certain tempo, we want a game with a certain tempo and it’s probably going to be somewhere in the middle.”
Wisconsin started the season ranked in the Top 25 and figured to be a surefire NCAA team for the 12th straight season under Bo Ryan. A season-ending injury to point guard Josh Gasser has set them back, but the fill-ins (Traevon Jackson and George Marshall) are coming around and will test Illinois. “Two different players as I watch them on film. They take care of the ball well like all Coach Ryan guards and teams do,” Groce said. “They’ve kind of filled that gap, and as time has went on they’ve got some experience and confidence and won some games.”
Prediction: Illinois 63, Wisconsin 57
When athletes experience some struggles, the confidence begins to dip shortly thereafter. Miss a couple shots, it gets in your head and compounds the problem. Next thing you know you’re getting advice on technique and everything else from all corners. That’s what’s happening to us when it comes to predicting games. We’ve missed three straight and four out of the last five. Might be time to see a sports psychologist if the slide continues. (N-G record: 11-6)