Dec 8, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Joseph Bertrand (2) shoots over Auburn Tigers guard Dion Wade (11) in the first half at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball: Dartmouth Big Green Preview and Live Thread

The Illinois Fighting Illini basketball team returns home to face Dartmouth this evening in the final untelevised contest of the season. This game is also the only game in the next four that will not be played on a neutral floor.

Illinois got back to its winning ways with their complete destruction of Auburn this past Sunday, and they will be looking to build on the hot shooting, ball movement, and freshman bench play that sparked their best offensive performance as a team to date.

Rayvonte Rice continued his ascension to being considered the Illini’s premier go to offensive option, and Tracy Abrams built off his strong second half against Georgia Tech by turning in a solid game against Auburn. Both players are going to be the key to the Illini making any kind of sustained run when Big Ten play starts up on December 31st.

Illinois enters this game with an 8-1 record, while Dartmouth comes in with a 3-3 record. Both teams have a common opponent in IPFW, and while we all know how the Illinois game turned out, most probably have no idea that the Dartmouth Big Green took one on the chin, 80-64, in their most recent game against those IPFW Mastodons.

Dartmouth is led in scoring by 6’7” sophomore, and Winnetka, IL native, Connor Boehm at 11.5 ppg. Boehm has converted 62% of his field goal opportunities this season. He also adds 5.2 rebounds per game.

The true threat, however, seems to be 5’11” sophomore Guard Alex Mitola who leads the Big Green in minutes played (29.8 mpg), assists (3.0 apg), and is second on the team in scoring (11.3 ppg). Mitola is also their highest volume 3 point shooter as he has converted 12 of 31 attempts from long range this season. He appears to be the straw that stirs the Big Green drink, and it will be up to Tracy Abrams to shut him down tonight.

Long story short, the Illini should win this one in much the same fashion they won the Auburn game. Illinois is going to have to be cognizant of Dartmouth’s 3 point shooting ability, but if the Illini limit open looks from three, and control the glass, they shouldn’t have much of a problem getting by this overmatched Dartmouth squad.

Three Things I’d like to See Tonight:

  • Continued Ball Movement (No settling for forced long range jump shots – work the ball for open looks no matter where they come from on the floor)
  • Freshman Development (Get out to a large lead early on and get the freshman more minutes to develop in a game situation)
  • Don’t Play Down (Come out from the opening tip and dominate both ends of the floor)

The Skinny:

When: Tuesday 12/10/13, 7 pm CT

Where: State Farm Center

Television: None (Shown on Tape Delay on BTN Thursday Dec. 12th at 6pm)

Watch Online: Big Ten Digital Network / Illini All-Access Only

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.

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Tags: Illinois Fighting Illini Rayvonte Rice Tracy Abrams

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