The Illinois Fighting Illini will play the Purdue Boilermakers at Assembly Hall on Wednesday.
The Fighting Illini pulled off yet another upset in their last game against #18 Minnesota. They went into Minneapolis and defeated the Golden Gophers, 57-53. Tracy Abrams hit an absolute dagger with 0:21 seconds left in the game and Illinois hung on for the win.
Wednesday’s game will be the second meeting between Illinois and Purdue this season. In their first meeting, the Boilermakers beat the #11 Illini, 68-61. Brandon Paul and Joseph Bertrand scored 15 and 14 points respectively. However, Purdue’s Terone Johnson scored 25 points to fuel Purdue over Illinois.
The Boilermakers come into Wednesday’s game with an overall record of 12-12 and a Big Ten record of 5-6. Purdue started out their Big Ten conference schedule with a big upset over #11 Illinois, but lost to #18 Michigan State and #15 Ohio State in their next two games.They are 2-4 in their last six games. They lost to #12 Michigan State, 65-78, in their last game.
There was no question that Terone Johnson single-handedly killed the Fighting Illini in the first meeting.
He scored 25 points and led all scorers in the game. Johnson is averaging 12.7 points per game this season. However, he is only averaging 9.0 points in his last four games.
The only other player averaging double-digit points this season for the Boilermakers is A.J. Hammons. He is averaging 11.3 points per game this season and has scored double-digits in the team’s last three games.
However, Illinois limited Hammons to two points in the first meeting. This was because he got into foul trouble and Johnson was bringing his “A” game that night.
Hammons is also the leading rebounder for the Boilermakers this season. He is currently averaging 6.8 rebounds per game. Although he only scored two points in the first meeting, Hammons was able to haul in seven rebounds against the Illini.
This will be 181st game between the Fighting Illini and the Boilermakers. Purdue leads the series 96-84. Purdue has won the last eight games against Illinois and the last three games played in Champaign.
This game has the same feel as the first meeting even though Illinois is unranked. This is because the Fighting Illini came into the first meeting with confidence and the same can be said for “Round Two.”
Illinois has defeated #1 Indiana and #18 Minnesota in their past two games. The biggest thing people are talking about is whether or not the Illini can get into March Madness with a sub-par Big Ten conference record. The upset wins over the Hoosiers and the Golden Gophers are the step in the right direction.
This is a must win game for Illinois. They need to prove that they can beat the middle teams in the Big Ten. The Fighting Illini have played well in their last few games and need to keep it rolling.
Teams want to get into tournament play on their own merit and not on the luck of the selection committee. A win against Purdue would take the selection committee out of the equation for the Illini.
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