College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

ui jacksonstate

Members of The Orange Krush get in on the fun during the Illini’s 71-47 home win against Jackson State.

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Follow along with beat writer Scott Richey all night long from State Farm Center:

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Even with Trent Frazier and Jacob Grandison dressed for tonight's game, neither will start against Notre Dame. Grandison, of course, was replaced by Da'Monte Williams when they were both available in Kansas City, but Frazier has been a starter, you know, his entire career. That would make me guess he's still not 100 percent.

Anyway, it will be a sixth different lineup in game seven for Illinois. The Illini are going with Williams, Alfonso Plummer, RJ Melendez (first career start), Coleman Hawkins and Kofi Cockburn.

Notre Dame will counter with its expected five: Prentiss Hubb, Cormac Ryan, Dane Goodwin, Nate Laszewski and Paul Atkinson Jr.

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A few thoughts from Brad Underwood on Notre Dame:

"A veteran team. (Coach Mike Brey) does an unbelievable job. This is a team that has some guys back from the first time we played them. They have great size. They’re a team that shoots the ball extremely well. If you let them catch and shoot in the spot they catch it, it’s probably going in. They’re a team that will mix up some defenses. Play a variety of zones. Play man primarily.

"They’re sneaky good in transition. They’re a team that can really stretch the floor with 4s and 5s being able to shoot it. This team is remarkably better when they come off the bench. They play a little smaller. The freshman from right there in South Bend (Blake Wesley) had 21 in his opener and is an athletic, shot-making, very, very talented player. Mike does a great job of moving him around. He gives them tremendous punch off the bench."

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Don't know what this will mean (or what it means for Jacob Grandison and Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk) but ...

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Still waiting for word on Trent Frazier. He's not out at the start of pregame warmups, but that apparently does not disqualify him from perhaps being dressed for the game.

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Let's just say the Big Ten and ACC need the Big Ten/ACC Challenge to go well. The Big Ten got its you know what handed to it in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, with the Big East finishing with a 6-2 advantage. The ACC, meanwhile, has collectively dropped a number of questionable games despite having the new No. 1 team in the country.

Brad Underwood is a fan of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

"Always a tremendous event," the Illinois coach said. "It’s the two best basketball conferences in the country getting together and doing something I think is really good for basketball. It’s one of those events fans like to see and is something ESPN does a great job of televising and pushing. It’s an event that’s great for basketball and great for the fans and one I know we enjoy being a part of."

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Illinois didn't completely cancel its Saturday practice because of the flu, but it was a close thing. You can obviously read more about that right here. I had that covered yesterday afternoon.

That doesn't mean, though, that Illinois didn't get any work done Saturday. It wasn't the quality of work that coach Brad Underwood wanted, but it was at least something. Something sophomore forward Coleman Hawkins said was still worthwhile.

"We just walked through a little bit," Hawkins said. "At times, that’s what we need sometimes. It’s mentally and physically draining when you have to continue practicing for such a long period of time when you just got done with a game. I think at times it’s best to let your body rest and get mental reps and prepare that way for games."

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Some early notes from State Farm Center. Both Jacob Grandison and Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk are dressed and went through some pre-warmups shooting. Whether they actually play against Notre Dame is to be determined.

Both players were among the four — Trent Frazier and Andre Curbelo included — that CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein reported earlier today were "highly unlikely" to play. And just because they're dressed doesn't mean they will play. Luke Goode dressed for both games in Kansas City, Mo., and didn't play because of back spasms. And Brandin Podziemski dressed Friday night against UTRGV but only played 2 minutes and 2 minutes Brad Underwood said he shouldn't have played the freshman guard who had not practiced because of the flu.

Official word on who is and is not playing should come in about 30 minutes.

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There's a better than good chance Illinois will not have its entire complement of players for tonight's Big Ten/ACC Challenge game with Notre Dame. Par for the course this season for the Illini.

Between Trent Frazier's knee injury (there's some thought he might dress; we'll see), Andre Curbelo's undisclosed issue (post-concussion symptoms?) and the flu bug running rampant through the program, Illinois is looking to be perhaps even more shorthanded than it was Friday against UT Rio Grande Valley.

Episode 176: Mix and match

The biggest losses, of course, continue to be Frazier and Curbelo. Both guards on the bench during games changes Illinois' entire dynamic. Playmaking takes a hit. Da'Monte Williams is played out of position running the offense. And, defensively, the best on-ball defender isn't on the court. 

Notre Dame hasn't exactly shown itself to be a world beater this season, but the Fighting Irish do have a veteran team. A veteran team that might be able to take advantage of the discombobulated Illini. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey's undoubtedly got something tricky up his sleeve.

Scott Richey covers college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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