Preview: Wisconsin At Illinois
Much has changed since Wisconsin and Illinois met four weeks ago, when the Badgers were ranked No. 4 in the nation and headed toward their school record 16th consecutive victory to start the season. When the teams face off Tuesday at Illinois, Wisconsin will be trying to win just its second game since Jan. 8 as the team has tumbled to No. 24 in the coaches’ poll. The Illini, meanwhile, come in riding a seven-game losing streak, which began with the 95-70 defeat to the Badgers last month.
Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky is a Chicago-area native who should have plenty of friends and family making the trek to Champaign, Ill. The 7-footer has been a nice surprise for the Badgers, tripling his scoring average from 4.2 last season to 12.9 and shooting 41.1 percent from 3-point range. Illinois' most prolific 3-point shooter also is a starting forward, Jon Ekey, who’s hitting 39 percent from long range while averaging eight points.
TV: 8 p.m., Big Ten Network
ABOUT WISCONSIN (17-5, 4-5 Big Ten)
The Badgers continue to lead the nation in fewest turnovers (8.3) and even their biggest offender, point guard Traevon Jackson, is getting better at protecting the ball. Jackson hasn’t turned the ball over more than three times in a game since finishing with a season-high seven on Jan. 5 against Iowa. Jackson established a career high in the first meeting against the Illini last season, scoring 14 points in a 74-51 victory against the then-13th-ranked team in the country.
ABOUT ILLINOIS (13-9, 2-7)
Kendrick Nunn is beginning to see his minutes increase and this could be the game where the backup freshman point guard finally reaches double figures in scoring. Nunn, who last season was considered the second-best high school senior in the state of Illinois behind teammate Jabari Parker, now at Duke, played a season-high 29 minutes two weeks ago against Michigan State and 24 the following weekend against Indiana, but was limited to 13 in Saturday’s loss to Iowa. Some are calling for Nunn to get more playing time than junior starter Tracy Abrams, who’s shooting 32.8 percent from the floor during the seven-game skid.
1. The Illini will be trying to avoid their longest losing streak in 40 years.
2. Illinois has either led or been tied with seven minutes left in six of its nine losses this season.
3. Six different players have led Wisconsin in scoring at least twice this season.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 64, Illinois 61