Illinois Basketball: 5 big questions for the Illini against Missouri

Illinois v Maryland
Illinois v Maryland / G Fiume/GettyImages
2 of 5

2. Can Illinois keep the Tigers off the free throw line?

Nearly every Missouri game this season has been close. Only one of the four losses by the Tigers have been by double-digits. This team knows how to keep games competitive.

I believe a big part of keeping games close is the ability to do the little things well. Getting to and converting at the charity stripe is one of those little things. Knocking down free throws can really narrow the margin and give you a chance to win.

A big question I have for Illinois is; can we keep Missouri off the free throw line? This will give the Illini a better chance at not only knocking off the Tigers, but I would like for this game to be a double-digit margin.

Illinois is actually one of the better teams at not allowing opponents to get to the free throw line. We are only allowing 16.4 free throws per game, which ranks No. 73 in the nation. But when a team like Missouri does get to the charity stripe, they convert.

In fact, Missouri is one of the best teams in the country at shooting free throws. They covert from the charity stripe at a rate of 77.8%, which is good enough for No. 18 in the country. In the narrow loss to Seton Hall, the Tigers were 19-of-22 from the free throw line. We can’t allow that to happen on Friday night.

The Illini have a chance to move to 9-2 on the season, but things could get a lot harder if Missouri gets to the free throw line consistently. We can’t allow that to happen.