4. Can Illinois limit Tennessee’s bench scoring?
Illinois has some good pieces on the bench. I love what Justin Harmon did last game, and Luke Goode is one of the best shooters I have seen for the Illini in a long time.
Teams that go up against Illinois have seen decent success with bench play as well. I was impressed with how Florida Atlantic’s bench played against the Illini. They had a combined 24 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists on Tuesday night.
I want to see if Illinois can limit the bench production from the opposing team. We failed to do so against the Owls, but can the Illini limit Tennessee’s bench scoring?
In the last meaningful game, against North Carolina, the Volunteers went about eight deep. Their bench finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and one assist. That is decent production but nothing to write home about.
I believe there is only one big-time bench layer for Tennessee. Jordan Gainey is the go-to bench player who Illinois needs to stop. He is averaging 11.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game off the bench. He isn’t great at shooting three-pointers, as he is hitting them at a clip of 32%, but Gainey loves to launch up shots from deep. Illinois can’t sleep on him or he will strike.
I think the Illini can keep the Tennessee bench scoring to under 10 points on Saturday. Tennessee doesn’t go consistently deep, so if we can prevent Gainey from going off, I think Illinois comes away with the win.