As the Big Ten conference begins to hit the final leg of the race, wins and more importantly not losing becomes bigger than it has been all year. In tonight's conference action Indiana heads to Evanston to play a Northwestern team who is playing their best basketball of the season. In the second game of the doubleheader bubble team Illinois travels to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes.
Game of the Night:
Illinois Fighting Illini at Iowa Hawkeyes 9:00ET on BTN
In a major conference showdown between two possible NCAA tournament teams, the stakes have not been this high all season long. Illinois is battling a fine line between making the cut and being cut, according to the latest SB Nation bracketology, where they currently stand as an 11 seed and are a part of the last four in. Iowa, on the other hand, has a better hand, as they are sitting around the 8 seed, but a win tonight could possibly move them up and more importantly not give them a shot at falling down.
Not having played each other yet this season, tonight will be the only chance these teams get to battle it out unless they meet in the conference tournament in Chicago in a couple weeks. The Illini come in to tonight's game scoring 70.1 points per game, but haven't scored that many in over a month and also have not scored over 70 and won since January 14th against Northwestern. The Illini are coming off two losses against tournament ready teams in Wisconsin and Michigan State and must find a way to get back in the in column. Iowa has done the exact opposite winning their last two games and scoring over the 70 mark in 4 of their last 6 games, winning all four and losing the two in which they scored less than 70.
How do they win?
For Illinois to keep their tournament chances alive they are going to need to get to the foul line tonight. The Illini lead the conference in free throw shooting percentage at 79 percent, but you can't make them if you aren't being aggressive and getting to the line. Iowa needs to continue scoring at a high rate and dominate the rebounding game that they have been able to do a lot this season.
Indiana Hoosiers at Northwestern Wildcats 7:00ET on BTN
Although the season and tournament chances may be gone for the Northwestern Wildcats, that has not stopped them from continuing to play hard on both sides of the court. Northwestern has won three games in a row after losing their first ten games of 2015 and now find their self in a familiar spoiler role tonight against the Hoosiers. Indiana continues to be that team that displays great offensive ability while playing at Assembly Hall but can't seem to find a way to duplicate it on the road. The Hoosiers have 5 of their 6 conference losses coming on the road this season, and haven't been able to win back to back games since January 22nd.