5 massive questions for the Illinois basketball team against Morehead State

The NCAA tournament is on the horizon, and the Illinois basketball team's first game is against a tough Morehead State squad.

Mar 17, 2024; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Quincy Guerrier (13) reacts in
Mar 17, 2024; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Quincy Guerrier (13) reacts in / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
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3. What does the rebounding battle look like?

Illinois is one of the best rebounding teams in the country. Kind of touching on the last slide, the Illini have the size at every position to go up and get a big rebound off the glass.

On Thursday, the Illini will be going up against another solid rebounding squad in Morehead State. They have the ability to compete in the rebounding department, so we can’t take them lightly.

I think rebounds could be a huge factor in deciding how close this game is down the stretch. I will be watching to see; what does the rebounding battle look like?

For the season, Illinois averages 41.3 rebounds per game, which ranks No. 4 in the nation. Morehead State isn’t too far behind, as they pull down 36.5 rebounds per contest, which ranks No. 94 in the country.

Much like Illinois, Morehead State doesn’t have a lot of huge players in the paint, but they have big rebounding guards and wings. Riley Minix is their top guard, and he is 6-foot-7. He leads the Eagles with 9.8 rebounds per game. This kid kind of gives me Marcus Domask vibes.

The Eagles have seen success against the four power conference opponents when it comes to rebounding the basketball. They average only losing the rebounding battle to Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, and Alabama by 5.25 rebounds per game. They also outrebounded Penn State by four rebounds.

Morehead State doesn’t have a lot of paint help, so this is an area Illinois can expose when it comes to rebounds. I think Coleman Hawkins could see double-digit rebounds on Thursday. Look for Dain Dainja to come off the bench and be close to a double-double as well. Illinois has the bodies to expose the talent gap.