Bench Production: Haven’t seen this beauty make the list in quite some time. Since Joseph Bertrand and Jon Ekey took over as experienced bench guys, the Illini bench production hasn’t been as big of an issue as it use to be with all the freshman serving that role. However, here it comes rearing it’s ugly head yet again. Both Bertrand and Ekey were starters in the Illini’s last game against Iowa, and Bertrand scored a team-high 20 points. Now, no one is looking for Bertrand to explode with 20 points off the bench, but he (as well as Ekey) need to play well. Unless the Illinois Fighting Illini make the NIT Tournament, this could be the last game Bertrand and Ekey play as members of the Fighting Illini.
Win the rebounding battle: In the last game against the Hawkeyes, Illinois was manhandled on the boards.They were out-rebounded 41-28 and allowed Iowa to rack up 15 offensive rebounds. There’s no way that the Illini will have a chance of upsetting the Hawkeyes in round two if they lose the rebounding battle again. Two Hawkeyes that should be #1 and #2 on the rebounding game plan should be Gabriel Olaseni and Aaron White. If Illinois can limit their numbers, they should be in a good spot to win this game.
Stay out of foul trouble: Although Illinois was able to stay out of foul trouble in their 31 point loss to Michigan, they found themselves in a bit of foul trouble the last time they took the court with the Hawkeyes. Jon Ekey fouled out of the game, Joseph Bertrand played with four fouls most of the game, and three other Illini finished with three personal fouls each. Illinois cannot let this happen if they want to end their season on a positive note.
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