Illinois Basketball: 5 big questions for the Illini against Maryland

Jan 11, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33)
Jan 11, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33) / Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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Illinois basketball continues the march to March this Sunday, as the Maryland Terrapins come to town.

The Illini are coming off a big win over Michigan State just days ago. This was a must-win, as the program needed to avoid a two-game skid and to maintain homecourt dominance.

Illinois is going to match up against a tough Maryland team on Sunday. While the Terrapins don't have a great offense, their defense is one of the best in the country. So, there are a few questions I have entering this contest.

Here are five big questions for the Illinois basketball team against Maryland

1. How low can Illinois keep Maryland’s scoring?

One of the signatures of the Illinois basketball team this season has been defense. In nearly every game, this program has played some great defense despite winning or losing.

Illinois is currently allowing 66.9 points per game, which ranks No. 64 in the country. This includes allowing 73 or fewer points in five out of the last six games.

So, how low can Illinois hold Maryland’s scoring to on Sunday? Will we be able to shut down the Terrapins when they try to get going?

On top of Illinois being a solid defensive team, Maryland has had trouble this season putting the ball in the hoop. The Terrapins average 70.6 points per game this season, which ranks No. 226 in the country.

A large part of this bad scoring is the fact Maryland thinks they can shoot from three-point range. They are taking 22.3 three-pointers per game, which ranks No. 166 in the nation. The Terrapins are only hitting 27.7% from three-point range, though. That is bad enough to rank No. 343 in the country.

Illinois is coming off a game where we held a near-40% three-point shooting team in Michigan State to just 26.3% from three-point range. Our length and strong perimeter defense gave the Spartans trouble, and I think it will do the same to Maryland. Look for the Illini to hold another team to sub-30% three-point shooting. I think there is a chance Illinois holds Maryland to under 60 points as well.