While the road has not been kind this season, Indiana can do itself a lot of favors when it plays its last true away game on Sunday afternoon at Illinois.
The Hoosiers could give themselves some breathing room as it relates to the NCAA Tournament bubble, while also helping the cause of not finishing in the bottom four of the Big Ten and thereby avoiding the dreaded Wednesday game at the Big Ten Tournament.
But IU is just 2-7 in true road contests, and the Hoosiers have looked dreadful at times away from Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Meanwhile, Illinois has lost three times this season at the State Farm Center (Miami, Fla., Michigan State and Maryland), but hold a 13-3 record overall on their home floor.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
Indiana (18-10, 8-9) at Illinois (19-9, 11-6)
- Tip time: Sunday / 2 p.m. ET
- Location: State Farm Center (15,500), Champaign, Ill.
- Television: BTN (Brandon Gaudin and Shon Morris) (Stream)
- Series: Indiana leads 93-87 (Last meeting: Indiana won 92-74 in 2019 at Illinois)
- Point Spread: Vegas has Illinois by 5.5 points. KenPom likes Illinois by 5 points.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Illinois Statistical Leaders
- Ayo Dosunmu (G) 16.4 ppg
- Kofi Cockburn (C) 13.6 ppg
- Kofi Cockburn (C) 9.1 rpg
- Giorgi Bezhanishvili (F) 4.9 rpg
- Andres Feliz (G) 4.9 rpg
- Ayo Dosunmu (G) 3.2 apg
- Andres Feliz (G) 3.0 apg
- Trent Frazier (G) .9 spg
- Kofi Cockburn (C) 1.2 bpg
Highlights from the last meeting (2019)
A look at KenPom No. 30 Illinois’ noteworthy advanced metrics vs. No. 39 Indiana
Struggling from the field. In Big Ten contests Illinois has a league worst 44.9 percent effective field goal percentage. The Illini are the worst in the league from three-point range at 29.4 percent in conference contests, and No. 13 from two-point range at 45.3 percent. When Illinois makes shots they are only via an assist 47.7 percent of the time (No. 13).
Elite on the offensive glass. It isn’t all bad news that the Illini miss a lot of shots. Illinois is the best team in the Big Ten in conference games, grabbing 34 percent of their misses. Meanwhile, Illinois has only allowed their Big Ten foes to snag 24.9 percent of their misses, a rate that is also the best in the league. Overall, Illinois is No. 5 in the country in rebounding margin while IU is No. 33.
Not turning anyone over, but… When you think of Illinois head coach Brad Underwood and his defense, historically pressure and denials leading to forced turnovers has been the foundation. The third year head coach has completely adjusted his scheme and now Illinois is last in the Big Ten in league games, forcing turnovers on just 14.2 percent of possessions.
But Underwood’s adjustments have worked. Illinois is No. 2 in league games in adjusted defensive efficiency, and No. 2 in effective field goal percentage defense (45.6 percent). Illinois defends the three-point line best, allowing opponents to make just 30.5 percent from behind the arc in conference contests (No. 2).
Notable individual metrics:
- Kofi Cockburn (C) is No. 23 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage, No. 59 in fouls drawn and No. 74 in free throw rate.
- Alan Griffin (G) is No. 77 in offensive rebounding percentage and No. 64 in three-point percentage (42.7 percent).
- Trent Frazier (G) is No. 80 in free throw percentage (85.9 percent).
Additional Game Coverage:
COCKBURN AND JACKSON-DAVIS BATTLING FOR BIG TEN FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
The battle for the Big Ten’s freshman of the year appears to be a two man race, and it might be settled on the court on Sunday.
Illinois center Kofi Cockburn averages 13.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.2 turnovers and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 55.9 percent from the field and 71.3 percent from the free throw line.
Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis averages 13.8 points, 8 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and 1.3 turnovers while shooting 57.4 percent from the field 69.2 percent from the free throw line.
Jackson-Davis has won the Big Ten’s freshman of the week honor five times, while Cockburn has claimed it on seven occasions.
Of course Indiana head coach Archie Miller is biased towards his big man for the league honor.
“He’s been a bright spot for us all season,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said of Jackson-Davis. “I think he’s the freshman of the year in our league. He’s my guy.”
Jackson-Davis has struggled at times on the road, including at Purdue on Thursday. On the season the 6-foot-9 big man’s numbers drop to 10.5 points and 7 rebounds away from home while shooting 53.3 percent from the field.
Postseason honors typically go to teams toward the top of the league standings. It might take a strong showing from Jackson-Davis on Sunday, and perhaps an IU win, for the Greenwood, Ind. product to stay in the running.
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