The Illini will travel to Evanston tonight to take on Northwestern. The Wildcats are 11-2 at home this year and the oddsmakers are predicting a close game.
I would say the Illini are playing their best basketball of the season coming off their beat-down of Purdue last week, but it hasn't been that kind of season for Illinois. Every time they look like they are playing great, they go out and shoot 28% on the road and lose. Since the beginning of January, the Illini have won every home game and lost every road game. That will need to change if the Illini hope to catch the Spartans for the Big Ten Championship.
Hustle and defense have been key in home wins for Illinois, two things that should translate well to road games. They're catching the Wildcats at the right time though, as Northwestern will be looking to end a four game losing streak* that has included mostly blowouts.
The key for Illinois tonight will be to control the boards and keep Kevin Coble under wraps. In Northwestern's upset wins it has been Coble who has led the charge.
The game starts at 8:00 PM and it's on ESPN2.
*It's bogus fact day on NQTC. I suspect I was thinking of a three game home losing streak to Illinois, but who the hell knows.