HQ prediction: Indiana 73, Illinois 66
Marcus Jackson breaks down Friday's Big Ten tourney game between the Hoosiers and Illini:
No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 8 Illinois, 11 a.m. Friday
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Tracy Abrams So. 6-1 10.4
G D.J. Richardson Sr. 6-3 12.5
G Brandon Paul Sr. 6-4 16.6
F Sam McLaurin Sr. 6-8 4.0
C Nnanna Egwu So. 6-11 6.5
FYI: Richardson’s streak of 38 straight games with a three-pointer is the longest active streak of any player in a power conference.
OFF THE BENCH
G Joseph Bertrand Jr. 6-6 7.5
F Tyler Griffey Sr. 6-9 7.1
F Myke Henry So. 6-6 3.5
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Yogi Ferrell Fr. 6-0 7.7
G Jordan Hulls Sr. 6-0 10.5
G Victor Oladipo Jr. 6-5 13.7
F Christian Watford Sr. 6-9 12.4
C Cody Zeller So. 7-0 16.8
FYI: Indiana leads the nation in made free throws per game (19.2), is second in scoring margin (18.5) and third in scoring (80.8).
OFF THE BENCH
G Will Sheehey Jr. 6-7 9.5
F Jeremy Hollowell Fr. 6-8 3.2
G Remy Abell So. 6-4 4.0
Site: The United Center (20,917), Chicago
TV: ESPN — Mike Tirico (play-by-play), former Hoosiers player and coach Dan Dakich (analyst) and Samantha Ponder (reports) 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 85-84. Last meeting — Illinois 74, Indiana 72, Feb. 7.
FYI: The Illini are 5-1 all time against the Hoosiers in the Big Ten tournament, with the last meeting a 71-59 UI win in the 2004 quarterfinals.
MARCUS JACKSON'S STORYLINES
Opening the tournament on a Friday is new territory for the Hoosiers, who grew accustomed to playing on Thursdays as the program tried to rebuild after the Kelvin Sampson fiasco. “My first two years we were playing on Thursday. This year we have a bye and don’t have to play until Friday, so it shows how much hard work we have put in this season,” Indiana guard Oladipo said. “To pull out that tough win at Michigan was huge for our program and huge for our team. At the same time, we want to accomplish so much more, and the Big Ten tournament is the first step.”
A few days after having a confrontation on the floor with a Michigan assistant coach, Indiana’s Tom Crean is playing nice with the Illini — so far. The coach tweeted a message to his followers shortly after Illinois’ last-second win against Minnesota on Thursday. “We will be facing an excellent coach in John Groce with an excellent staff,” Crean tweeted. “(Their) ball movement and spacing are very good.”
If Illinois is to pull off the upset for the second time this season against Indiana, it knows more players besides Brandon Paul will have to step up offensively to match the high-octane Hoosiers. “I know they got beat at home against Ohio State, but you go on the road and win at Michigan to win the Big Ten title, you’re playing well,” said Illini assistant Dustin Ford, who has the scout. “They’ve got pros. They’ve got guys who can make plays, and we’ve got to play well and hope we can make some shots, score in transition a little bit and limit theirs.”
Indiana 73, Illinois 66
The mind-set for Illinois all season has been “next game.” That just happens to be archrival Indiana on one of the biggest stages most of the players have performed. From the sounds of things, they don’t seem fazed, though the task will be daunting. “We got Indiana next, and we have a mind-set that this is it for us,” Paul said. “Especially for us seniors, we got to play, go out with a bang.” (N-G record: 21-12)