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Game Preview: Illinois vs Hampton

Previewing Illinois' Wednesday night matchup against Hampton.

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois ESPN Logo

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
6:00 pm CT

RPI Ranking: Illinois: 64 | Hampton: 316
KenPom Ranking: Illinois: 37 | Hampton: 237
Location: State Farm Center | Champaign, IL
Television/Stream: ESPNU | WatchESPN
Odds: Illinois (-22.5), Over/Under: 140

Hampton ESPN Logo

The Illinois Fighting Illini are back at State Farm Center on Wednesday night to take on the Hampton Pirates. Illinois currently boasts a 34-game non-conference, home game winning streak (nation's third-longest active streak). This run will, in all likelihood, continue against the Pirates.

However, Hampton can't be written off just yet given Illinois' recent play. The Illini are in the middle off a stretch in which they've lost three out of the last four games; the most recent being a surprising loss to Oregon this past weekend.

Probable Starters:

Illinois Fighting Illini:

  1. Ahmad Starks (7.5PPG, 2.0RPG, 3.3APG)
  2. Kendrick Nunn (8.5PPG, 2.5RPG, 1.4APG)
  3. Rayvonte Rice (17.8PPG, 6.7RPG, 1.7APG)
  4. Malcolm Hill (13.7PPG, 5.9RPG, 1.4APG)
  5. Nnanna Egwu (7.8PPG, 5.9RPG, 1.3APG)

Hampton Pirates:

  1. Deron Powers (9.9PPG, 2.6RPG, 3.6APG)
  2. Brian Darden (8.9PPG, 1.4RPG, 1.1APG)
  3. Dwight Meikle (11.2PPG, 4.9RPG, 0.3APG)
  4. Quinton Chievous (12.4PPG, 8.1RPG, 1.0APG)
  5. Jervon Pressley (6.9PPG, 4.9RPG, 1.1APG)

<p><!--  ########  START SIDEBAR SNIPPET  ########  --> <!-- TIPS:    1. This is a floated element, so place before the paragraph you'd like it to float beside --></p><div class="sidebar"><a href="http://www.thechampaignroom.com/2014/12/17/7405885/how-to-watch-illinois-vs-hampton-game-time-tv-schedule-live-stream-radio-odds"><h2>How to Watch: Illinois vs Hampton</h2><!-- Optional Image, Remove if you'd like --> <img src="https://cdn3.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/Vm3cOI-u4Asl5rdbJJBcaukNUY0=/0x158:2061x1532/709x473/assets.sbnation.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/44351582/usa-today-8269155.0.jpg" /> <!-- End image --> </a> <span></span></div><!--  ########  END SNIPPET  ########  -->

Keys to the Game:

1. Focus on THIS game

There are plenty of distractions that could prevent Illinois from focusing on this game. It's Finals Week, Braggin' Rights is on Saturday, playing a bad opponent; hell, I don't even want to be writing this preview. It's Hampton. The Illini can not come out with this type of attitude on Wednesday night, especially after their showing against Oregon this past weekend.

Oh and one more thing--the Orange Krush won't be in attendance again because this is considered a break game. Most students are still here taking finals, but they have to actually buy a ticket for the game. That's smart! This is obviously less than ideal, but it also means that I'll be able to join you guys in the Game Thread. This makes YOU the real winner.

2. Keep taking care of the ball

The Fighting Illini currently rank second in the nation in turnover percentage (13.8%), sixth in turnovers (9.7 avg.), ninth in turnover margin (+5.5), and 12th in assist/turnover ratio (1.49). The team has struggled offensively over the past few weeks, but these stats have remained a constant and they're absolutely fantastic.

Illinois just needs to re-learn how to move the ball on offense. There's been way too much standing around on that end of the court. Set an off-ball pick, cut to the basket, run in circles--do something, anything!

Prediction:

This game shouldn't be close. Yes, the Illini have struggled over the past few weeks, but Hampton is--well they're Hampton. I addressed some outside factors that the Pirates can take advantage of, but I'd be willing to bet that Coach Groce will have this team in the right mindset after losing three out of the last four.

Illinois 84, Hampton 61

*****

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