5 big questions for the Illinois basketball team against Duquesne

After a big win in the first round, the Illinois basketball team now takes on the No. 11 Duquesne Dukes with a shot at advancing to the Sweet 16.

Mar 21, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini forward Dain Dainja (42) reacts in the
Mar 21, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Dain Dainja (42) reacts in the / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
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3. How high can Illinois rack up the rebounding margin?

I believe I touch on this quite often, and it also kind of piggybacks on the previous slide. Illinois is a great rebounding squad, and it doesn’t just come from the big men either.

The Illini actually don’t have much in the way of a traditional big man. We can pull Dain Dainja off the bench, but even he is more limber and agile than a prodding big man of the past.

With the great rebounding ability, can Illinois dominate Duquesne on the glass? I will take it a step further. How high can Illinois rack up the rebounding margin against the Dukes?

Coming into the game on Saturday, the Illini average 41.2 rebounds per game, which ranks No. 5 in the nation. We are also coming off a game against Morehead State where we won the rebounding battle 37-32. That was the fifth straight game Illinois has won the rebounding margin, and we have only been beaten in the rebounding department three times in the past 20 games.

On the other hand, Duquesne is not great at rebounding the basketball. They average 34.6 rebounds per game, and that ranks No. 189 in the country. Despite the win over BYU, the Dukes were outrebounded 35-29. They have actually lost the rebounding battle in three out of the last five games they played.

Again, I think Illinois’ size is going to come into play when it comes to rebounds on Saturday. I am not just talking about Coleman Hawkins and Dainja down low. I think the Illini guards have a chance to have a big game in the rebounding department. Marcus Domask is coming off a triple-double, which featured 11 rebounds against Morehead State. I expect the Illini guards to have a big game on the glass against the Dukes.