The Illinois Fighting Illini and the Nebraska Cornhuskers will both be gunning for a victory on 2/26/2017 at 7:30 PM when they meet in a game matchup.
Illinois Fighting Illini vs Nebraska Cornhuskers
When: 7:30 PM ET, Sunday, February 26, 2017
Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska
|845||Illinois Fighting Illini||-4 (-110)||133 (-110)||155
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
PREDICTION: Nebraska 70, Illinois 67
Oddsmakers currently have the NEBRASKA listed as -4 point favorites versus the ILLINOIS, while the game’s total is sitting at 133.
Illinois has reached the breakeven mark in conference play only once since coach John Groce arrived in 2012-13, and a second such season appeared highly unlikely as recently as three weeks ago when it fell to 3-8 in league play. The Illini have since rebounded with three victories in their last four contests and will continue their pursuit of a .500 record in Big Ten action Sunday when they visit Nebraska.
Following a Feb. 4 defeat to Minnesota for its sixth loss in seven tries, Illinois stunned Northwestern three days later for its first road win of the season before also winning at Iowa on Feb. 18, which came after a disappointing home setback to Penn State exactly one week earlier. The Illini, who host Michigan State on Wednesday prior to closing out their regular-season schedule at league-worst Rutgers next weekend, continued their recent strong play by holding the Wildcats to 18 second-half points in Tuesday’s 66-50 victory to complete a regular-season sweep of their instate rival. The Cornhuskers saw their modest two-game winning streak snapped Thursday at Michigan State, falling into a ninth-place tie with Illinois and Penn State after suffering an 88-72 defeat against the Spartans. Nebraska has dropped nine of 12 overall since a 3-0 start to conference play, but a win would go a long way in helping it secure a first-round bye in the upcoming Big Ten tournament, as the Cornhuskers would hold the tiebreaker edge over the Nittany Lions and Illini.
ABOUT ILLINOIS (16-12, 6-9 Big Ten): The Illini have improved markedly on defense over their last six games, limiting their opponents to 64.2 points on 39.7 percent shooting after allowing their first nine league foes to score 74.8 points per game on 49.2 percent from the field. Malcolm Hill (team-high 17 points per game) who is the only Illinois player to start every game this season, has led the team in scoring 17 times this season and is shooting 51.4 percent from the field over the last three games. The Illini received only two minutes from sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands (8.1) on Tuesday as he suffered an early mild left ankle sprain, but the team’s leading 3-point shooter is expected to return to his normal role Sunday.
ABOUT NEBRASKA (12-15, 6-9): Senior guard Tai Webster (team-high 17.8 points), who is the conference’s third-leading scorer and one of only two power-conference players (Villanova’s Josh Hart) to reach double figures in every game this season, posted his first career double-double Thursday with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Second-leading scorer Glynn Watson Jr. (13.7 points) has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.3 over his last eight outings, and the sophomore guard ranks seventh in the Big Ten in 3-point accuracy (45.6 percent) during league play. Sophomore forward Michael Jacobson leads the conference in offensive rebounds in conference action (3.7), helping the Cornhuskers record a plus-5.3 margin on the boards over the last seven contests (minus-2.4 over the team’s first eight league games).
1. Illinois is seeking its first three-game winning streak in conference play since 2015 and first three-game league road winning streak since 2014.
2. Webster is 20 points shy of becoming only the fourth Cornhusker to amass 500 points and 100 assists in a season, joining Erick Strickland, Jaron Boone and Tyronn Lue.
3. Coleman-Lands’ 143 career 3-pointers leads all sophomores from the six major conferences.