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Minnesota Basketball-Previewing Illinois

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The Gophers try for their first three game winning streak of the season.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota takes on Illinois this evening. The Gophers are coming off wins over Maryland and Rutgers. Illinois will be the tenth straight opponent to play the Gophers immediately after a loss. Minnesota is 8-19 on the season and 2-13 in conference. Illinois is 12-16 overall and 4-11 in conference. The last time the two teams played, Illinois won in overtime.

Provide Me the Essentials to View this Game

Who are the Gophers playing?

Illinois Fighting Illini

What time are they playing?

7pm CST

Where are they playing?

State Farm Center

Can I watch the game on TV?

Yes. BTN.

Can I listen to the game on the radio?

Yes. 1500ESPN.

Tell me more about the opponent

Since the two teams last played Illinois is 2-6 with both wins over Rutgers. The Illini lost their last game to Indiana by 27 points. Despite the overall putrid record, Illinois received some good news with the return of Mike Thorne Jr. last game.

Overall, the Illini score .966 points per possession. They do so by being inefficient everywhere except the free throw line. Illinois is the worst two point shooting team in the conference. They are the seventh best three point shooting team, and take almost 40% of their shots behind the line. Given Minnesota's struggles to defend the perimeter, this will be a key to watch tonight.

On defense, the Illini give up almost 1.07 points per possession. They have not been particularly imposing inside, but the return of Thorne may change that for the rest of the season. Illinois is an ok rebounding team, but gives up a high effective field goal percentage. Most of those shots come inside.

Keys to the Game

  1. Defend the Perimeter. Illinois does not frequently get to the foul line, and their statistical profile is that of a jump shooting team. Minnesota has had success the last month defending teams that refuse to take the ball into the lane. Against Illinois, it will be imperative that the Gophers close out on shooters and fight through screens.
  2. Feed Jordan Murphy. Illinois has a weak interior defense. It is not Rutgers bad, but it is bad. Jordan Murphy should be able to have a field day in the post. The Gophers will have to look for him early and often.
  3. Have the Bench play well. Neither team's starters are fantastic as the records show. In this game, whichever team has better bench minutes will likely win. Minnesota must at least hold serve with Nate Mason and Joey King on the bench. The Gophers can also ill afford to get negative plays from Charles Buggs, Kevin Dorsey, and Ahmad Gilbert.

Predictions

  • Minnesota by 1. 66-65.
  • The Gophers have an effective FG% under 50%.
  • Jordan Murphy stays on the floor for almost the entire first half.