Wisconsin has two big things going for it in this one. First, six days of rest after the Michigan State game. Second, the big men for Wisconsin should feast in this matchup. Illinois doesn’t have anybody returning bigger than 6-6. That’s a major problem for a college basketball program. I would expect Wisconsin to potentially play three forwards at the same time to take advantage of the smaller lineup for the Illini.
Happ, Reuvers, and Illikainen could be a fun trio on the court for the Badgers. Illikainen would give the Badgers a big man who can spread the floor and knock down shots from the perimeter but the athleticism to drive to the basket while also giving space for Reuvers and Happ to work inside. I wouldn’t be surprised if Illinois can keep it close early on but barring an ice-cold performance offensively for the Badgers I’m confident Wisconsin wins by double digits.
There is just something about traveling to Evanston that Badger teams struggle with. Last year, Wisconsin won a close one on the road 70-64 despite having four players in double-digits scoring. Things just aren’t ever easy when facing the Wildcats on the road, but it makes for an entertaining game nonetheless.
This year has a different feel to it though as the Cats’ lost a lot of leadership and experience, something Wisconsin has plenty of. At this point in the season Wisconsin is rolling and an inferior Northwestern shouldn’t be able to stand a chance. Wisconsin Wins.