Indiana Basketball vs Illinois: Know your opponent, preview, and prediction

Indiana basketball, Joey Brunk, Rob Phinisee. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Indiana basketball, Joey Brunk, Rob Phinisee. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The Indiana basketball program goes on the road for one last game this season, looking to steal one from Illinois.

The Indiana Hoosiers have been playing well down the stretch this season, and will need to continue to do so in order to set themselves up favorably come March. Indiana is not yet a lock for the tournament, but it would take somewhat of a meltdown for them to miss the NCAA tournament altogether for the third straight year.

Most projections have the Hoosiers in the 8-10 seed range. However, a win on the road against another tournament bound team in Illinois would certainly help to improve their potential seed.

Winning in Champaign is no easy task, however. The Fighting Illini have lost just three of their sixteen home games this season and have picked up back to back wins against Penn State and Nebraska.

The Illini are led by a duo of underclassmen in Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn. Dosunmu, a sophomore guard out of Chicago, has NBA size and athleticism and the production to match. He’s averaging 16.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, and 3.2 apg on the season.

Cockburn is a 290 pound 7-foot center out of Jamaica who has been absolute beast inside this year. In 27 minutes a game, he’s putting up 13.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, and is the sole competition for Jackson-Davis for Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

If Indiana wants to steal one on the road Sunday, they’ll have to contain Cockburn and Ayo. The defensive game-plan should be centered around forcing the ball into Illinois’ secondary play-makers and scorers hands.

Offensively, the Hoosiers will need big games out of reigning national freshman of the week Trayce Jackson-Davis and senior sharpshooter Devonte Green. When both of these two show up on the offensive end, it usually means good things for Indiana as a team.

light. More. Breaking Down Indiana's 2020 Recruiting Class

Key Storylines:


Can Indiana control the defensive glass? Illinois is second in the Big Ten in offensive rebounding, led by Cockburn’s 3.5 offensive boards per game. If the Hoosiers allow Illinois too many second chances it will be tough for them to come out of Champaign with a win. The other major storyline for this Indiana team continues to be Devonte Green. The senior guard seems to have righted the ship after a rocky stretch of games from late January into February, but they’ll need his shot making to be on display Sunday in order for the Hoosiers to secure their third road win.


Can Illinois get any type of perimeter scoring? The Fighting Illini rank dead last in the Big Ten in three-point percentage  during Big Ten play (28.9%) and Alan Griffin is their only player shooting better than 35 percent from deep. If Illinois is able to get any sort of scoring spark from outside it could spell trouble for Indiana, considering the Illini are extremely tough to score against–allowing just 62 points per game in Big Ten play which is best in the conference.

Key Players

Trayce Jackson-Davis (13.8 ppg, 8 rpg), Devonte Green (10.6 ppg, 2.1 apg), Justin Smith (10.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Rob Phinisee (7.0 ppg, 3.1 apg)

Ayo Dosunmu (16.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Kofi Cockburn (13.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg), Andres Feliz (10.8 ppg, 3 apg), Trent Frazier (9.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg)

Next. How Khristian Lander Fits With Indiana In 2020 And 2021. dark

Prediction: Indiana 59, Illinois 56