No. 1 Indiana at UI men, 6 p.m. today
Indiana (20-2, 8-1 Big Ten)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Yogi Ferrell Fr. 6-0 7.7
G Jordan Hulls Sr. 6-0 11.1
G Victor Oladipo Jr. 6-5 14.0
F Christian Watford Sr. 6-9 12.9
C Cody Zeller So. 7-0 16.3
FYI: Oladipo has upped his field goal percentage from 48.6 to 64.4, his three-point percentage from 23.5 to 51.4 and offensive rebounds from 1.8 to 2.5 since last season.
OFF THE BENCH
G Will Sheehey Jr. 6-7 9.9
F Jeremy Hollowell Fr. 6-8 3.8
G Remy Abell So. 6-4 5.1
Illinois (15-8, 2-7 Big Ten)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Tracy Abrams So. 6-1 11.4
G D.J. Richardson Sr. 6-3 11.8
G Brandon Paul Sr. 6-4 17.4
F Sam McLaurin Sr. 6-8 4.0
C Nnanna Egwu So. 6-11 6.6
FYI: Bertrand scored 17 points against Wisconsin in his first start Sunday after scoring a total of 17 points in the previous four games.
OFF THE BENCH
G Joseph Bertrand Jr. 6-6 8.7
F Tyler Griffey Sr. 6-9 6.7
F Myke Henry So. 6-6 3.4
Site: The Assembly Hall (16,618), Champaign
TV: ESPN — Joe Tessitore (play-by-play) and Sean Farnham (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: Indiana leads 84-83. Last meeting — Indiana 84, Illinois 71, Feb. 9, 2012.
FYI: The Illini have won three straight at home against the Hoosiers and nine of the last 10 against Indiana at Champaign’s Assembly Hall.
MARCUS JACKSON'S STORYLINES
With the Illini struggling on the defensive end in recent games — they’re giving up 76 points per game in the last three — some have suggested switching defensive schemes. John Groce said he’s thought about making changes, but the fundamental principles still apply. “Whether we press, whether we play zone, whether we play man, you’ve still got to guard the ball; you’ve still got to keep the ball in front,” he said. “You’ve got to do that better; I don’t care what defense you’re playing. Those are some of those simple fundamental things, regardless of what defense you’re playing, we’ve got to do better.”
In conference play, coaches always say the key to having a successful season is to win at home and at least split on the road. The Illini haven’t taken care of the home part, losing four straight at the Assembly Hall for the first time in five years. That has to change. “It’s obviously disappointing, everybody knows that. You want to win at home,” Groce said. “We’re not trying to lose at home; you want to win, period. That’s what we put the game plan together for. We think if we do certain things within a game plan it gives us the best chance to do that.”
Entering the season, the hype around Indiana centered on big man Cody Zeller. The 7-footer hasn’t disappointed, but the player who also has thrust himself into the National Player of the Year conversation is Victor Oladipo, who is averaging 14 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. “Victor’s a great player. There’s a few guys in the NCAA I like to watch besides myself and my team, and he’s a great player,” Brandon Paul said. “He gets it done on both ends of the floor, and he does a lot for his team.”
Indiana 77, Illinois 67
The last time a No. 1 team came to the Assembly Hall was two years ago, when top-ranked Ohio State left with a 73-68 victory. Illinois could use a win against No. 1 to help move off the NCAA tournament bubble. “It’s exciting. It’s always a rivalry between us and Indiana anyway,” D.J. Richardson said. “Every time we play them it’s a good matchup. Last year they got us; the year before we got them. It’s always fun.” A win for the Illini would be a tall task. But it would be a fun way for them to start the second half of the conference schedule and build momentum. (N-G record: 13-10)