The Illinois Fighting Illini will play the #10 Colorado Buffaloes at Frank Erwin Special Events Center in Austin, Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Fighting Illini went “one and done” in the Big Ten conference tournament after winning a thriller over Minnesota and losing to Indiana. Brandon Paul hit a game winner in their first game of the conference tournament, but the Illinois offense went absolutely cold against the Hoosiers in their second game.
Colorado comes into Friday’s NCAA Tournament game with an overall record of 21-11 and a Pac-12 record of 10-8. Just like the Fighting Illini, the Buffaloes went “one and done” in the Pac-12 tournament. They lost in the second round to the Arizona Wildcats, 79-69.
There are four players that have fueled the Colorado offense this season.
These players include: Spencer Dinwiddie (15.6 points per game), Askia Booker (12.4 points per game), Andre Roberson (10.9 points per game), and Josh Scott (10.3 points per game).
Dinwiddie’s 15.6 points per game made him the seventh best scorer in the Pac-12.
As a team, Colorado could seem to be a middle of the road team. This is because they finished seventh in the conference for points per game and eighth in the conference for field goal percentage.
When it comes to rebounding, Andre Roberson is the best on the team for the Buffaloes. He averaged 11.5 rebounds per game this season and he was the only Colorado player to average a double-double per game.
Roberson is a dominate rebounder.
He was first in the Pac-12 and second in the entire NCAA Division I in rebounding this season.
This will be fifth meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Buffaloes. Illinois leads the series 3-1. The last time these teams met was in 1987 in Denver, Colorado.
In their last game against the Hoosiers in the Big Ten conference tournament, the Fighting Illini showed how inconsistent their offense can be.
After their win over Minnesota, Brandon Paul mentioned how the team was feeling their “Maui swag” (being a reference to the Maui Invitational Tournament).
If the Illinois team that played in the Maui Invitational Tournament or during their entire non-conference schedule, then the Illini should be in good shape on Friday. They averaged around 50% from the field during their three wins in the Maui Invitational Tournament and were able to beat a pretty good Butler team.
When it comes down to it, the offense just needs to be clicking. In the team’s upset win over the Gonzaga Bulldogs, they let Gonzaga shoot 49% from the field. However, Illinois won because of their 50% from the field and 42.3% from beyond the arc (Paul’s 35 points doesn’t hurt either).
If Illinois wins on Friday, they will either play #2 Miami (FL) or #15 Pacific in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Miami is the ACC Tournament champion and Pacific is the Big West Tournament champion.
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