5. Who wins the bench battle?
While the rebounding battle will be intriguing when Nebraska heads to Champaign, I believe the bench battle will also be one to watch.
I think Illinois is a very deep team if Brad Underwood allows his bench to play minutes. We can bring someone at every position off the bench and have them fill in crucial minutes for a missing player.
So, who is going to win the bench battle? Which bench will come through on Sunday and help put their team over the finish line first?
Illinois’ bench once again came through for the program against the Buckeyes a few days ago. They combined for 18 points, 12 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block in the victory.
Justin Harmon has been sensational for the Illini off the bench, as he has shown he can play at multiple levels. Luke Goode has proven he can be a sniper from three-point range, but his hustle is what really stands out about his game. I love the fact we can bring a couple of solid big men in Dain Dainja and Amani Hansberry off the bench too.
Illinois’ bench has been big for the team, but the Cornhuskers can hold their own as well. In the big win over Wisconsin, Nebraska’s bench put up a stat line of 34 points, nine rebounds, six assists, four steals, and one block. CJ Wilcher led the way with 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field.
Nebraska gets big minutes from Juwan Gary and Sam Hoiberg too. Both Gary and Wilcher are in the top five on the team in scoring averaging 11.5 points and 9.7 points per game, respectively. Meanwhile, Hoiberg does a little bit of everything and leads the team with 1.1 steals per game.
When it is all said and done, the determining factor of who wins and loses the game on Sunday could easily come down to which bench played better. Illinois has good players in the second rotation, but this is Nebraska’s specialty. Let’s see how this plays out.