5 massive questions for the Illinois basketball team against UConn

The Elite 8 is here, and the Illinois basketball team is taking on what most people think is the best team in college basketball in the UConn Huskies.
Mar 28, 2024; Boston, MA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Luke Goode (10) reacts after a basket
Mar 28, 2024; Boston, MA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Luke Goode (10) reacts after a basket / Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
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4. Is it possible to buck the turnover trends?

There are a lot of ways to build momentum in a game. Getting a team to turn the ball over and then getting out in the open court for a transition bucket is a great way to score and get momentum on your side.

Turnovers are huge for any contest. Illinois isn’t very good at forcing turnovers, though. In addition to that fact, UConn doesn’t turn the ball over often.

So, on Saturday, can this turnover trend get bucked? Can Illinois force UConn to cough up the ball more often than they have this season?

I am not exaggerating when I say Illinois is one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to forcing turnovers. Illini opponents average 8.7 turnovers per game, which ranks No. 357 out of 362 DI teams. I can count the teams below us on one hand.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, UConn does not turn the ball over. The Huskies average just 9.8 turnovers per game this season, which ranks No. 29 in the nation.

Illinois loves transition buckets. We need to force more turnovers to get these easy points at the other end. It is incredible that Iowa State only had nine turnovers, and Illinois still won the game. Illini opponents have had double-digit turnovers in three out of the past 19 games.

It is going to be tough to force UConn into mistakes. They are an old and smart team. They don’t make mistakes. Illinois’ quick hands could be a way to force more turnovers, but we don’t want our guards getting in foul trouble. If the Illini can buck the trend and force UConn into turning the ball over, we are going to win this game. But that is a big ask.