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2/12 Big Ten Preview: Illinois at Nebraska

Preview all of Friday’s Big Ten action.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Friday was originally supposed to be a quiet day for the Big Ten. However, with Illinois and Michigan postponing their game on Thursday night, the league decided to schedule a matchup between the Illini on Nebraska on Friday evening. It figures to be a fun one.

Let’s take a look at the schedule.

Game of the Day:

-No. 6 Illinois Fighting Illini at Nebraska Cornhuskers

  • Time/TV: 9:00PM ET (BTN)
  • KenPom Spread: Illinois by 14

The spread listed above probably tells you about all you need to know how the experts feel this game is going to unfold. Illinois enters this game with momentum and a clear talent advantage over the Huskers. While the Illini are ranked in the top 10 nationally and are coming off four straight wins, Nebraska is still winless in league play.

All of that suggests this will be a game with little intrigue.

However, this is college basketball, where the unexpected becomes reality.

The biggest thing to watch here will be whether Illinois can take care of business as the team continues to push its way up the Big Ten standings. The Illini appear to be the biggest challenger to Michigan for the conference title and desperately need to avoid an upset loss to Nebraska if that’s to remain the case. As such, this creates the classic trap game scenario where Illinois could be looking ahead to bigger things, including a rivalry game against Northwestern on Tuesday night.

For Nebraska, the goal here will be playing tough, keeping things tight, and hoping for a magic finish in the closing minutes. Illinois’ defense has been a bit inconsistent, so perhaps the Huskers can do some damage there. The team also isn’t doing a great job pressuring the ball in the backcourt. Expect Nebraska to try and exploit that. A lot of pressure will be on Trey McGowens to make some noise.

Still, it’s hard to go with Nebraska here. This feels like a game where Illinois will put in a good day’s work and cruise to a win. We’ll see if the Huskers can do enough to keep things interesting. An upset here would be pretty shocking.

  • Pick Against The Spread: Illinois

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Record Against The Spread: 21-16-2