Jan 13, 2013; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats guard Alex Marcotullio (4) and Iowa Hawkeyes guard Roy Devyn Marble (4) go for a loose ball during the second half at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Iowa Hawkeyes defeated the Northwestern Wildcats 70-50. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Men’s Basketball: Northwestern Game Preview

The #23 Illinois Fighting Illini will play the Northwestern Wildcats at Assembly Hall on Thursday.

The Fighting Illini are looking to bounce back after dropping two straight Big Ten conference games. This is the first time Illinois has dropped consecutive games all season.

The Illini are coming off of their worst offensive performance against the Wisconsin Badger. They only had two players in double-digits and one of them was not senior Brandon Paul. Paul scored only eight points in the loss to Wisconsin which snapped a streak of seventeen straight games with double-digit points.

Dec 21, 2012; Evanston, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats guard Reggie Hearn (11) grabs a rebound against the Stanford Cardinal during the second half at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Stanford Cardinal defeated the Northwestern Wildcats 70-68. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats are just 1-3 in their last four games. They are 10-7 overall and are 1-3 in the Big Ten. They lost badly to the Iowa Hawkeyes, 50-70, in their last contest.

Northwestern has three players who can put the ball in the hoop. They are sophomore Dave Sobolewski, senior Drew Crawford, and senior Reggie Hearn.

Hearn leads the team with 13.7 points per game, but struggled in Northwestern’s last conference game. In the loss to Iowa, he only scored six points. Crawford, who is second on the team in scoring, has not played since December 8th.

However, Dave Sobolewski has been a nice scoring option for the Wildcats. In their last three games, Sobolewski has scored double-digits and is third on the team with 11.5 points per game.

The leading rebounder for the Wildcats has been senior Jared Swopshire. He is averaging 5.9 rebounds per game. In the loss to Iowa, he hauled in five rebounds and scored only two points.

This will be 167th meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Wildcats. Illinois leads the series 129-37. In their last meeting, Northwestern defeated Illinois, 74-70.

The Fighting Illin will need to get their offense back on track if they want to end their current two-game losing streak. Brandon Paul had seventeen straight games with double-digit points after only scoring eight points against Wisconsin.

Their last game was an odd scoring night for Paul. He only went 1-of-11 from the field which does not seem like Brandon Paul at all. Expect him to be himself on Thursday against the Wildcats.

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Tags: Basketball Brandon Paul Dave Sobolewski Illinois Fighting Illini Northwestern Wildcats

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