Illinois vs. Northwestern Pick - Big 10 Tournament Game
The Illinois Fighting Illini (11-20) will be taking on the Northwestern Wildcats (13-18) in the first round of this year’s Big 10 Tournament Wednesday at 8 p.m. Both of these teams were certainly the bottom-feeders in the conference this season. Northwestern finished in last with a 4-16 record against the rest of the Big Ten, while Illinois finished third to last with a 7-13 conference record.
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The Wildcats took care of the Fighting Illini back on January 6, in a tight one 68-66. Illinois went into halftime leading 31-25 but was outscored 43-35 in the second half of that game. A.J. Turner hit a 3-pointer with 10.1 seconds left to give Northwestern their first Big Ten win of the season.
The junior forward missed a wild 3-point attempt with just under 20 seconds left, but Dererk Pardon grabbed the rebound and threw it back out to Turner for the game-winning basket.
“I thought I got a clean look at the first one, and it was just a little short,” he said. “My coaches and my teammates have been telling me just to be aggressive, so I just let it fly.”
Vic Law had 13 points, and 10 rebounds, Turner and Ryan Taylor had 12 points apiece, and Anthony Gaines added 11 for Northwestern.
Illini Led by Freshman
Ayo Dosunmu led the Fighting Illini with 18 points, and Adonis De La Rosa added 12.
“This team will continue to stay together. We’ll continue to fight,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said.
Northwestern had won last season’s meeting 72-68 in overtime. Illinois still leads the all-time series 134-42.
"We've got a hurting locker room; there's a lot of tears in that locker room," said Underwood. "As a coach, you feel for them. And yet you walk away from them, and you're excited because it hurts. That's when you're playing the right way. That's when you're playing for the name on the front of your jersey."
The Illini have been solid defensively all season, but have had troubles developing more consistency on offense. Illinois averages 9.2 3-pointers a game, which is second in the Big Ten. The Illini were held to 0-for-11 shooting behind the arc in the first game against Northwestern.
Wildcats Getting Lots of Law
Law leads the Wildcats with 15 points per game and his biggest knock earlier in the season had been playing at a more consistent level. The senior had a pretty good streak of consistency starting at the end of January. He had two games of 24 points in February against Iowa and Wisconsin. Those two games were a part of a seven-game stretch where Law finished in double-digits.
The Illini will need their trio of scorers to come up big against the Wildcats if they want to come away with a win on Wednesday. Dosunmu averages a team-high 14.1 points, while Trent Frazier (13.6) and Giorgi Bezhanishvila (12.1) are the other two players who average double-digits.
- Get more details: Illinois at Northwestern NCAAB Tournament Match-up
Illinois at Northwestern Prediction 03/13/2019
ESPN's matchup predictor is giving Northwestern a 60 percent chance to come away with a win at the United Center. With both teams being local, it will be interesting to see which way this game goes. Neither side has shown significant signs of life, but we expect the Illini to continue their strong Big Ten Tournament early round success.