CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Indiana hits the road to face one of the Big Ten’s hottest teams in recent weeks. Illinois is riding a four-game win streak, each by nine or more points, with victories over Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan State and Minnesota.
Indiana snapped its three-game losing streak by suffocating the Wisconsin offense in a 63-45 win at Assembly Hall. But to keep this momentum going, Indiana will have to win away from home, something the Hoosiers haven’t done since Nov. 20.
“You’ve got to put a 40-minute ballgame together,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said. “You know, you can’t play in spurts on the road … You’ve got to defend and rebound the basketball and not turn it over.”
*** LIVE BLOG: And once the game starts, follow all the action on our live blog from HoosiersNow.com publisher Tom Brew. To read that story, CLICK HERE.
How to watch Indiana Hoosiers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini
Radio: IU Radio Network (Bloomington: 105.1 WHCC-FM, Indianapolis: 107.5 WFNI-FM)
Radio Announcers: Don Fischer (play-by-play), Errek Suhr (color), John Herrick (pregame, halftime, postgame)
Point spread: Will update when available.
Associated Press poll: Indiana outside the top 25 for the second consecutive week after appearing in the first nine polls. Illinois was ranked in the first seven polls, but has been unranked the last four weeks.
KenPom rankings: Indiana is No. 29 overall in the KenPom rankings as of Wednesday afternoon. The Hoosiers are No. 45 in adjusted defensive efficiency and No. 34 in adjusted offensive efficiency. Illinois is ranked No. 21 overall, No. 26 in adjusted defensive efficiency and No. 39 in adjusted offensive efficiency.
Season projections: As of Wednesday, Indiana has the 11th-best odds to win the Big Ten regular season title at plus-7500. Indiana is plus-2600 to reach the Final Four and plus-10000 to win the National Championship, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Last three games: Indiana defeated Wisconsin 63-45 on Saturday, lost 85-66 at Penn State on Wednesday and lost 84-83 at home to Northwestern on Jan. 8. Illinois won 78-60 at Minnesota on Monday, beat Michigan State 75-66 on Friday and won at Nebraska 76-50 on Jan. 10.
Last season’s records: Indiana went 21-14 overall, 9-11 in Big Ten play, 14-4 at home, 3-8 on the road and 4-2 at neutral sites in 2021-22. The Hoosiers finished ninth in the Big Ten, defeated Wyoming in the NCAA Tournament First Four and lost to Saint Mary’s in the Round of 64. Illinois went 23-10 overall, 15-5 in Big Ten play, 13-3 at home, 7-4 on the road and 3-3 at neutral sites in 2021-22. Illinois won a share of the Big Ten regular season title, but lost as a No. 4 seed to No. 5 seed Houston 68-53 in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32.
Series history: Indiana leads the all-time series 94-91. The Hoosiers and Illini have split the last 10 matchups. Indiana coach Mike Woodson scored a career-high 48 points in a 72-60 win at Illinois on March 3, 1979.
Last meeting: Indiana snapped a four-game losing streak against Illinois with a 65-63 win over the Illini in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals on March 11, 2022. This win turned out to be Indiana’s ticket to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016. Trayce Jackson-Davis led the Hoosiers with 21 points and seven rebounds, and Xavier Johnson added 13 points and six assists. Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn scored 23 points and 10 rebounds and Coleman Hawkins added 18 points. Jackson-Davis put the Hoosiers on top with a pair of clutch free throws at the 26-second mark, and Indiana’s defense held strong in the final moments.
Brad Underwood, Illinois: In his sixth season at Illinois, Underwood has a 106-71 overall record and a 58-46 mark in Big Ten play. Illinois shared the Big Ten regular season title in 2021-22 and won the Big Ten Tournament in 2020-21 to earn a No. 1 seed, but both seasons ended in a Round of 32 exit in the NCAA Tournament. Before Illinois, Underwood coached at Oklahoma State for one season and went 20-13 with a Round of 64 loss in the NCAA Tournament. He got the Oklahoma State job after going 89-14 overall and 53-1 in the Southland Conference in three seasons as the head coach at Stephen F. Austin. Underwood and the Lumberjacks qualified for three straight NCAA Tournaments and reached the Round of 32 in 2013-14 after upsetting VCU. Underwood played at Hardin-Simmons University, Independence Community College and Kansas State from 1982-86.
Mike Woodson, Indiana: In his second season at Indiana, Woodson holds a 32-20 record. Woodson has NBA head coaching experience with the Atlanta Hawks from 2004-10 and the New York Knicks from 2012-14. Dating back to 1996, Woodson has also been an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers. Woodson played at Indiana University from 1976-80, and was named the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player as a senior under coach Bob Knight. He was the 12th overall pick in the 1980 NBA Draft, and played for various teams from 1980-91, averaging 14 points over 786 games.
Three things to watch in Indiana vs. Illinois
1. Guarding Terrence Shannon Jr. without fouling
Terrence Shannon Jr., a 6-foot-6 guard transfer from Texas Tech, is the focal point of Illinois’ offense. Averaging 17.6 points, Shannon thrives on getting to the basket and drawing fouls. In the Big Ten, only Purdue’s Zach Edey has attempted more free throws than Shannon, a 78.0 percent free throw shooter on 118 attempts. Already shorthanded without Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson, Indiana will have to stay out of foul trouble, specifically when guarding Shannon. Indiana’s Trey Galloway has drawn the matchup on the opponent’s best guard in recent games.
2. Contrasting 3-point numbers
Illinois has attempted the second-most 3-pointers in the Big Ten behind Penn State, a team Indiana had a miserable time defending last week. Despite the high volume, the Illini shoot 33.1 percent from 3, which ranks eighth in the Big Ten. Conversely, the Hoosiers’ 37.1 percent 3-point shooting is third among Big Ten teams, but their 307 attempts are a conference-low figure. Indiana has a 45.1 percent 3-point shooter in Miller Kopp, but he’s attempted just 10 shots in the last four games.
3. Trayce Jackson-Davis versus Dain Dainja
Indiana’s star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis dominated Wisconsin’s Steven Crowl on Saturday with 18 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, but he’ll have a tougher matchup on Thursday at Illinois. The Illini no longer have the giant Kofi Cockburn, but Dain Dainja has proven to be a force in his first season at Illinois. The 6-foot-9, 270-pound Dainja played sparingly at Baylor last year, but he’s worked his way into the starting lineup for Illinois over the last six games. He shoots an efficient 71.8 percent from the field and has scored a combined 31 points and 11 rebounds over the last two games against Michigan State and Minnesota.
INDIANA LOOKING FOR FIRST BIG TEN ROAD WIN: Indiana basketball hasn’t won a game away from Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall since Nov. 20. The Hoosiers are 0-3 in Big Ten road games and play at Illinois, winners of four in a row, on Thursday. CLICK HERE
WOODSON RADIO SHOW: Coach Mike Woodson appeared on his weekly radio show “Inside Indiana Basketball” alongside play-by-play announcer Don Fischer on Tuesday night to recap Indiana’s win over Wisconsin, discuss coaching philosophies and preview the upcoming Illinois game. CLICK HERE
COLUMN – MORE SHOTS FOR MILLER KOPP: When asked about getting more shots for Miller Kopp, Indiana coach Mike Woodson didn’t consider it a high priority. But with two starters out, Kopp needs to have a bigger role in the offense. He played 26 minutes Saturday before taking his first shot, and that just can’t happen for Indiana to be at its best offensively. CLICK HERE