HQ forecast: Nebraska 73, UI women 68
Illinois at Nebraska
7 p.m. today
Illinois (9-7, 2-2 Big Ten)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Alexis Smith So. 5-9 8.4
G Ivory Crawford So. 5-10 13.6
G Amber Moore Jr. 5-11 13.0
G Adrienne GodBold Sr. 5-11 18.6
C Karisma Penn Sr. 6-2 19.2
FYI: Illini shot season-best 50 percent Sunday versus Michigan State. The last time the UI made at least half of its shots from the field was Feb. 20, 2012, against Northwestern (51.2 percent).
OFF THE BENCH
F Taylor Tuck So. 6-0 5.4
G McKenzie Piper Fr. 6-0 2.8
F Nia Oden So. 5-10 1.9
Nebraska (12-5, 2-2 Big Ten)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Lindsey Moore Sr. 5-9 15.2
G Rachel Theriot Fr. 6-0 4.7
F Hailie Sample So. 6-1 5.2
F Emily Cady So. 6-2 9.9
F Jordan Hooper Jr. 6-2 17.9
FYI: Last season, Cady and Sample became one of nine freshmen in program history to start every game.
OFF THE BENCH
G Tear’a Laudermill So. 5-9 6.1
F Meghin Williams Sr. 6-1 2.3
F Katie Simon So. 6-2 2.5
Site: Bob Devaney Sports Center (13,595), Lincoln, Neb.
Radio: WDWS 1400-AM (tape-delayed at 11 p.m.); Dave Loane (play-by-play) and Mike Koon (analyst)
Internet: Live stream on Big Ten Digital Network (link from www.fightingillini.com/allaccess); subscription required
Series: Nebraska leads 4-2.
FYI: This will be the Illini’s third visit to Lincoln but first since Cornhuskers became a Big Ten member in the 2011-12 academic year.
Jeff Huth’s storylines
Most teams would feel fortunate to have one truly elite player. Nebraska has two. Junior forward Jordan Hooper and senior guard Lindsey Moore are among the 25 players on the Wade Trophy preseason watch list. The Wade is regarded as the Heisman Trophy of women’s college basketball. In addition, Moore is among 15 players on the watch list for the Nancy Lieberman Award, given to the nation’s top female point guard. It should come as no surprise, then, that Hooper and Moore made the Preseason All-Big Ten Team as selected by the media (and it was an eye-opener when Moore did not join Hooper on the coaches’ preseason all-conference team). Each ranks among the top 10 in the Big Ten in scoring, Hooper is third in rebounding. Moore is third in assists, and — by a large margin — Moore is No. 1 in assist-to-turnover ratio. “Two of the best players in the conference,” Illini coach Matt Bollant said.
When Bollant watches tape of the Cornhuskers, it reminds him of the versatile Wisconsin-Green Bay teams he coached for five seasons before moving to Illinois last spring. “They put five players on the floor that can pass and shoot,” he said. “Every one of their players can shoot the three, every one of them can pass and handle the ball, so it makes it easy to run offense when you have that.” Nebraska also pounds the offensive glass, which should be a red flag for an Illini team coming off a troubling rebounding performance. Michigan State outrebounded Illinois 49-22 on Sunday, with 21 of the Spartans’ rebounds coming on the offensive end. Now the Illini face a Nebraska team that leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounds (15.4 per game). “A huge concern, especially with the way we rebounded with Michigan State,” Bollant said.
This is one of five weekday road games on the Illini’s Big Ten schedule. That’s five out of the eight conference trips Illinois will make this season. “Certainly it makes it more of a challenge because of class,” Bollant said. The good news is that for distant trips, Illinois charters flights. And for weekday road games, the charters allow the team to delay departure until after classes the day before a game. The charters also permit the team to fly back immediately after the game. “So they just miss one full day (of classes),” Bollant said. Given his druthers, the UI coach would prefer an even split for Big Ten trips — four on weekdays and four on weekends. But he’s OK with the current schedule breakdown “as long as our kids are doing well in class. And we had over a 3.1 (grade-point average) this (fall) semester, which is a huge improvement from last spring.”
Nebraska 73, Illinois 68
The Cornhuskers’ record is deceiving given that three of their losses were against teams currently ranked in the top 12 of The Associated Press poll. Nebraska also is 9-2 at home, with each loss to a ranked foe. An ever-improving Illini team won’t go down without a fight. Their last three losses have been by margins of one, one and four points. (N-G record: 11-5)