March 4, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers players pose for pictures after the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin defeated Illinois 70-56. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Men’s Basketball: Wisconsin Game Preview

The Illinois Fighting Illini will play the Wisconsin Badgers at Assembly Hall on Sunday.

The Illini lost to the #13 Michigan State Spartans, 75-80, in their last game. They lead 37-327 at halftime, but Keith Appling took over for the Spartans in the second half to give his team the victory.

This game will be the second meeting between Illinois and Wisconsin this season. In their first meeting, the Badgers beat the Illini, 74-51. D.J Richardson led the Illini with 16 points and Brandon Paul had a terrible games. Paul went 1-of-11 from the field and scored eight points.

The Badgers come into Sunday’s game with an overall record of 14-7 and a Big Ten record of 5-3. They started their Big Ten conference schedule with four straight wins, but have struggled as of late. Wisconsin is 1-4 in their last four games. They lost to the #11 Ohio State Buckeyes, 49-58, in their last game.

Jan 29, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward/center Jared Berggren (40) controls a rebound against the Ohio State Buckeyes at the Schottenstein Center. Ohio State won the game 58-49. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

In the first meeting with Illinois, Wisconsin had four players reach double-digit points. These players were senior Ryan Evans (10 points), senior Jared Berggren (15 points), sophomore Traevon Jackson (14 points), and freshman Sam Dekker (13 points).

Overall, the star of the game was Berggren. He played 30 minutes against Illinois and recorded a double-double (15 points and 12 rebounds). He is currently averaging the most points on this Badgers’ team (11.9 points). In the loss to Ohio State, he scored 11 points and hauled in nine rebounds in 36 minutes.

Another player that made life hell for the Illini in their first meeting was Sam Dekker. He played 24 minutes off the bench and scored 13 points. He went 5-of-9 from the field and 3-of-7 from beyond the arc.

This will be 189th meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Badgers. Illinois leads the overall series, 110-78.

The two keys of the game for the Illini will be defense and 3-point shooting.

First, everybody and their mother knows that Illinois’ biggest strength is their 3-point shooting. Back in November when they were playing their best basketball of the season, they were making at least ten shots from beyond the arc per game. However, that was not the case in their first meeting with the Badgers.

In that game, Illinois only made 2-of-15 shots from 3-point land. It was arguably the worst shooting performance for the Illini all season. It also did not help that Wisconsin made ten threes in the game.

Second, the Fighting Illini will need to be better defensively then they were in their last game against Michigan State. The Illini led at the half, but blew it in the second. Yes, Wisconsin does not have a player like Keith Appling, but they can still score at will. If Illinois jumps out early, they will need to lock down in order to hold it the rest of the way.

This should be an interesting game for both teams. Wisconsin and Illinois are both struggling as of late. The Badgers are 1-3 in their last four games while the Illini are 1-5 in their last six games.

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Tags: Basketball Brandon Paul Illinois Fighting Illini Jared Berggren Wisconsin Badgers

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