The last week has been quite the roller-coaster ride for Northwestern basketball. First a possibly program-defining win in Madison, then a beatdown at the hands of Melo Trimble and Maryland, and finally a tense last-second victory against the worst team in the Big Ten, Rutgers.
When these two teams squared off early this month in Evanston, Northwestern was without Scottie Lindsey, and the Wildcats seriously struggled offensively. In a very ugly game, Illinois managed to pull away in the final minutes to upset the Wildcats 68-61.
Despite a slow start, Malcolm Hill had a solid all-around game with 14 points and 9 rebounds, but the real damage came down low. Center Maverick Morgan had 11 points and 4 rebounds, while forward Michael Finke had 11 points and was 3-of-5 from three off the bench.
Northwestern can only do so much to slow down Hill, but they have to do a better job of handling Illinois’ other players in the second matchup.
Last time the Wildcats traveled to Champaign was almost two years ago on February 28, 2015, and the results were not pretty. Illinois thoroughly trounced Northwestern 86-60. But that has been the only time under Chris Collins that the matchup has not been close.
Tonight will also only be Collins’ second ever trip to the State Farm Center as Northwestern’s head coach is 2-3 all time against the Illini.
Game time: 7:00 p.m. CT
TV Channel: BTN
Mobile: BTN2Go app
Radio: 720 WGN, WNUR 89.3, Sirius 134, XM 195
Betting line: Northwestern -2