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1/20 Big Ten Preview & Open Thread: Iowa Hosts Illinois

Preview the Big Ten’s slate for Sunday.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten only has one game on Sunday, but it is a matchup that could have significant postseason implications. Illinois goes on the road to face Iowa and is hoping to upset a pretty hot Hawkeye team. It figures to be a fun game.

Let’s take a look at today’s Big Ten action.

Game of the Day:

-Illinois Fighting Illini at No. 23 Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 1:00PM (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Iowa (-10)

Despite plenty of concerns about the Hawkeyes coming into this season, Iowa has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the league. Iowa has consistently played at a nationally relevant level since November and already has a handful of marquee win heading into late January. By any stretch, Iowa has now placed itself into the NCAA Tournament conversation and might even be able to get a high seed in March if things fall right.

And things are rolling right now for the Hawkeyes. The team has won four straight and 9 of its last 10 games. That run includes wins over Iowa State, Nebraska, and Ohio State. That success will now be put on the line on Sunday when Iowa hosts what has been an inconsistent Illinois squad.

Generally speaking, this looks like a game that Iowa should win. The Hawkeyes are a better team in the advanced metrics, are more experienced, and have a significantly better record. In fact, Illinois sits at just 5-12 overall and 1-5 in Big Ten play heading into this one. Those aren’t exactly nationally elite numbers.

However, Illinois could prove to be a pretty dangerous opponent. The Illini have been playing better and absolutely took it to a solid Minnesota team earlier this week. The Gophers went into that game in largely the same way Iowa goes into Sunday’s game and ended up losing by about 30 points to the Illini.

Iowa also has a major question to deal with in regard to Tyler Cook. The team’s star player has missed two of the last three games. And though early reports are that he’s going to play in Sunday’s game, who knows how productive he will be for the team. It’s not easy to come back from injury.

All told, Iowa should be able to win this game. Iowa is a better team and this one comes at home. However, Illinois could make this thing a little uncomfortable for Hawkeye fans. The key will be whether Iowa can find a way to guard Ayo Dosunmu.

  • Pick Against the Spread: Illinois

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Season Record vs KenPom’s Spread: 46-36-3