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2/2 Big Ten Preview: Top 20 Showdown Between Illinois and Iowa

The Illini travel to Iowa City to face the Hawkeyes.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

There’s only one game today as the schedule remains largely clear with the Super Bowl this evening. While there’s only one game it is a showdown between two top twenty teams so let’s take a look.

Game of the Day

#19 Illinois Fighting Illini at #18 Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Time/TV: 1:00 PM ET (FS1)

The Illini are looking to make it eight wins in a row today but will face a tough test as they head to Iowa City to play the Hawkeyes. Last time out Iowa lost at Maryland, snapping a five game winning streak that included wins over three ranked opponents (Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers).

Today’s match includes two of the better offenses in the Big Ten and should provide plenty of fireworks. The Illini are led by guard Ayo Dosunmu, who is averaging 16 points and shooting 48% from the field. Kofi Cockburn has been a force down low with 14.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, while Andres Feliz, Trent Frazier and Alan Griffin round out a dynamic backcourt. The Illini have had a high flying offense at times this season and have continued to excel even with Giorgi Bezhanishvili being less productive in his sophomore season. While their scoring has dipped in conference play, the Illini defense has been outstanding and is currently first in conference play in defensive scoring (60.1 ppg).

Iowa center Luka Garza has been having quite a year with 23.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He’s been getting plenty of help from Joe Wieskamp, who is averaging 15.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Freshman CJ Fredrick has also been key as he’s hitting 46.8% of his three pointers, including 51% from deep at home. The Hawkeyes come into today’s game first in scoring in conference play (77.6 ppg) and fourth in field goal percentage. The one weakness for Iowa is their defense, giving up 73.8 points per game in conference play (12th) while allowing teams to score inside without much resistance.

While they lost at Maryland, the Hawkeyes did hang around and show they can score against a solid Maryland defense. Now they have to face a hot Illinois team that has an even better defense. The Hawkeyes will have plenty of options on the offensive side of the ball, but they need to find a way to stop opposing teams from scoring so easily. With Dosunmu and Cockburn the Illini are likely going to score plenty of points, but luckily for Iowa they have enough options to keep pace.

Illinois has been playing a touch better than Iowa as of late but winning on the road is difficult and today’s game being in Iowa City should be the deciding factor. Look for an exciting thriller with Iowa doing just enough to sneak past Illinois and end the current Illini winning streak.

Pick: Iowa