Northwestern is on a four-game Big Ten winning streak for the first time since 1967, and NU will look to continue that momentum as it makes the three-hour drive south to Champaign on Saturday to take on Illinois. The Wildcats haven't visited the Illini since 2013, meaning they've yet to play in the newly renovated State Farm Center, but their last trip to the team downstate ended in a 68-54 win.
Illinois is headed in the opposite direction of NU. Once considered a strong contender to make the NCAA Tournament, the Illini have lost three straight and sit at 7-8 in the conference. This game is a must-win if Illinois wants to make the Big Dance, and they'll have to start playing better.
Since the start of conference play, Illinois is the worst two-point shooting team and the 10th-best three-point shooting team in the Big Ten. That doesn't bode well against NU's zone, which has denied the inside game and dared teams to shoot. The Illini have also allowed opponents to shoot a solid 49.9 eFG%, and if that trend continues against NU, the Wildcats have a chance to pull of the upset.
There's one injury of note: JerShon Cobb remains out for Northwestern. However, that hasn't mattered as of late.
Here's how you can watch:
Time: 6 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 720 WGN, 89.3 WNUR
Line: Illinois opened as an 8-point favorite, but the line has since crept down to Illinois -6.5.
KenPom: KenPom gives NU a 24 percent change of winning, with a predicted score of 64-57 Illinois.
Key Stat: Tre Demps is shooting 55% eFG% during conference play. If he hits that percentage again, NU has a very good chance to win.
Check back here around game time to follow along with us on our gamethread.