After a nice six day break the No. 20 ranked Badgers are set to face Illinois at home in the Kohl Center. Wisconsin will look to break their two game losing streak after losses to Michigan and Michigan State. Illinois has been playing extremely well lately with big wins over Michigan State and Maryland.
The last time these two teams met the Badgers overcame 18 turnovers as they went on to beat the Illini at home 72-60. They were led by sophomore forward, Nathan Reuvers, who had a career high 22 points and added on 10 rebounds for a double- double. The Badgers star player, Ethan Happ, struggled with fouls early on and would be the only starter to not put up double digits in points.
The Wisconsin Badgers have now won 14 straight games against Illinois heading into their next matchup. This is a different Illinois team then what the Badgers saw in January. They have won five of their last six since their loss to the Badgers including big wins over Maryland, Michigan State, Nebraska, and Ohio State. The Badgers can’t take this winning streak lightly after just coming off of a two game losing streak.
The Illini defense is the reason for their success in big games. In their game against Ohio State they shot 44 percent from the floor and 28 percent from three pointer. They managed to hold the Buckeyes to an even worse shooting percentage with them only shooting 18 percent from three pointers. They also got a lot of production out of their Freshman guard, Ayo Dosunmu, and Sophomore, Trent Frazier, who combined for 30 points in the game against Ohio State.
This is a must win game for the Badgers after splitting two of their last four games. In recent games the Badgers have really struggled at shooting. They are shooting just 41 percent from the floor and are averaging 60 points in their last five games. Luckily for Wisconsin, the Illini aren’t that great at shooting either and this game should be a matter of who can play better defense.
In order to win the Badgers need to limit their turnovers as much as possible. After their last meeting with Illinois and having 18 turnovers while shooting 44 percent, Wisconsin will need to clean up their recent sloppy play. Ethan Happ will need to have a higher scoring game then he did last time they played but that shouldn’t be a problem as he averages 18.4 points per game this season.
The Badgers are a projected five seed for the big tournament in March and they can’t afford a loss to Illinois at home. The Badgers should bounce back after this two game losing streak and go on to beat the Fighting Illini in a close one.
Wisconsin- 73, Illinois- 68