Illinois Basketball: 5 players the Illini could struggle against in 2017-18

Mar 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view of the basketballs on the ball racks before the start of the McDonalds All-American Powerade Jamfest at the Chicago Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; A general view of the basketballs on the ball racks before the start of the McDonalds All-American Powerade Jamfest at the Chicago Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Ethan Happ (22) drives to the basket against Florida Gators forward Kevarrius Hayes (13) and guard Kasey Hill (0) during the first half in the semifinals of the East Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Ethan Happ (22) drives to the basket against Florida Gators forward Kevarrius Hayes (13) and guard Kasey Hill (0) during the first half in the semifinals of the East Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

2. Ethan Happ – Wisconsin Badgers

Illinois had troubles stopping a lot of players last season but one that stuck out the most was Ethan Happ. He had a tremendous season altogether, but against Illinois, he was extra dominant.

In the lone matchup last season, Wisconsin pounded the Illini in Champaign. It was a sad game that featured Illinois losing by 14 and the team only scoring a total of 43 points. Happ had a particularly good game that day as well.

Happ dropped 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in the only game he played against Illinois. These were pretty good numbers considering the leading rebounder on the Illini had four for the entire game.  While the Illini lost this game, it wasn’t the only time Happ played well.

Wisconsin went to the Sweet 16 last season and Happ had a lot to do with their success. He finished the year averaging 14 points, 9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He also dropped 12 points and 8 rebounds in a victory over No. 1 seed Villanova as well.

Heading into next season, Illinois should be worried about Happ. They had more size last year and couldn’t stop him. Hopefully, he doesn’t just rip into the Illini this year, but something tells me he will have a heyday.