The Big Ten Conference race is coming down to the final week, and there are some monster games on the schedule on Sunday. The Illinois Fighting Illini will host the Iowa Hawkeyes in the regular season finale on Sunday in a game that will have huge conference race implications. Iowa was able to beat Illinois earlier this season on their home floor, but the Fighting Illini will be looking for revenge in Champaign.
Illinois enters the week with a 12-6 record in Big Ten play, which puts them in a tie for second place. The Fighting Illini have gone 20-9 overall, but they have really turned things around since league play began. Iowa enters the week with an 11-7 mark in Big Ten play, and they are still in line to earn a double-bye in the conference tournament. The Hawkeyes are also 20-9 on the regular season, and will join the Fighting Illini in the NCAA Tournament.
Garza Leads Explosive Iowa Offense
The Iowa Hawkeyes might have the player of the year in the Big Ten Conference on their team, and they are also one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Iowa is averaging over 78 points per game, and they live and die by the three point shot. The Hawkeyes are allowing just under 72 points per game, but they are comfortable trying to win each game in a shootout.
Center Luka Garza does a little bit of everything for the Hawkeyes, and has emerged as one of the premier players in college basketball. Garza leads the team with close to 24 points per game, and he can do damage on the perimeter as well. The Hawkeyes have four different players who are averaging at least one made three point field goal per game, and they will shoot a ton of them in this one.
Illinois Can Really Defend
Despite losing the first matchup with Iowa, the Fighting Illini were able to hold the Hawkeyes to just 72 points. Illinois is holding teams to under 65 points per game this season, and they are one of the highest rated defensive teams in the league. The Fighting Illini play a solid man to man defense, but they will need to find a way to contain Garza in this matchup. Illinois can’t afford to get into a shootout with the Hawkeyes.
Point guard Ayo Dosunmu is leading Illinois with more than 16 points per game, and the ball will be in his hands if the game is close. The NBA prospect has shown a propensity for hitting clutch shots to lift his team to victory. Freshman center Kofi Cockburn is an absolute monster that has been putting up a double-double almost every time out.
Illini Get Revenge on Home Floor
There is no love lost between Illinois and Iowa, and this should be a great regular season finale on Sunday. Illinois looked like they were going to knock off the Hawkeyes in Iowa City a few weeks ago, but Luka Garza had other ideas. Iowa is an extremely tough team to beat when they are making shots, and Illinois will have to be locked in on defense.
This game just means too much for Illinois for them to suffer a slip up on their home floor. The crowd will be rocking, and it should help the Fighting Illini find just enough offense to pull away from the Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa will keep it close, but Illinois is getting revenge with a victory.
We are taking the Illinois Fighting Illini in this Big Ten showdown, at our favorite pay per head bookie site PayPerHead247.