Illinois Basketball: 5 big questions for the Illini against Michigan

Illinois Fighting Illini forward Quincy Guerrier (13) high-five the Illinois bench after drawing a
Illinois Fighting Illini forward Quincy Guerrier (13) high-five the Illinois bench after drawing a / Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA
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4. How does Illinois slow down Olivier Nkamhoua?

For being a team under .500, Michigan has some solid talent. Honestly, it is kind of embarrassing that they are 7-10 this season with losses to teams like McNeese and Long Beach State.

But that doesn’t erase the fact that the talent the Wolverines have on the court is impressive. Olivier Nkamhoua is their best player, and he could end up being on the first-team All-Big Ten this season.

So, on Thursday night, can Illinois find a way to slow down Nkamhoua? How does the Orange and Blue go about accomplishing this goal?

For the season, the fifth-year transfer from Tennessee is averaging 17.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. He is also shooting 54% from the field and 36.7% from three-point range.

There has only been one game this season when Nkamhoua hasn’t scored double-digit points, and that was the St. John’s game where he put up nine points. This kid has been incredible, and he is leading the charge for the Wolverines right now.

At the end of the night, I would imagine Nkamhoua is going to have different Illinois players guarding him. Michigan is probably going to do multiple screens to get him clean looks. But Illinois, thankfully, has good size.

I believe Nkamhoua will struggle against Coleman Hawkins when trying to score, but he might have more success against someone like Quincy Guerrier because of the size. I love the length of the Illini, though.

As long as Illinois isn’t lazy through screens, I think we will be okay. Nkamhoua can score from multiple levels, but Illinois has shown we can play solid defense anywhere on the court. Let’s not be lazy around screens, and communication is going to be huge. We have to know when to switch. Any space given to someone like Nkamhoua is going to kill us.