The Illini are still seeking out their first Big Ten win of the Coach Brad Underwood era, and there may be no place like home as the Iowa Hawkeyes come to the State Farm Center on Thursday.
Illinois has been able to hang in with every loss this season, but by this time the losses have to be weighing on the squad. Look for Coach Underwood to stress the importance of a 40-minute game plan and the importance of not letting up.
What exactly, though, do the Illini need to do in order to win against Iowa?
Play A Full Game
The Illini have been notorious this season for playing great one half and poor the other. Over their past three Big Ten matchups, the Illini have been outscored by an average of 15 points in one half. Against Maryland and Minnesota, they came out slow. Against the Wolverines, they got trounced in the second half. Illinois will need to find a way to play a complete game for the first time in their Big Ten season if they hope to come out on top.
Emphasis On Turnovers
The calling card for Illinois has been their defense and their ability to force smart, well-coached team into a lot of mistakes. The Illini forced Michigan, a team not known for mental lapses, into 15 turnovers this past weekend. Iowa is averaging just under 14 turnovers per game over the past three games. I expect the Illini to capitalize on the mistakes of Iowa and maximize their points off turnovers.
Maximum Effort, Minimum Mistakes
The mental lapses have cost this team at least two wins and could have cost them more in other games. This team, while young, needs to stop making mistakes in crunch time. The team has to stop finding ways to beat themselves, while also keeping their same intensity that has helped save them in many games this season.
0-5 can’t happen, right? I mean Underwood did coach an 0-6 Oklahoma State team to the tournament, but I would rather not start 0-6.
Good guys win, 74-61.