After coming off of their biggest victory of the season, No. 12 Illinois will head to Assembly Hall to take on Indiana, in one of the Big Ten’s best basketball rivalries.

Following a ten-day layoff between games, Illinois (11-5, 7-3) would defeat Luka Garza and No. 7 Iowa and inch a bit closer to the top of the Big Ten Conference. Despite trailing at halftime, big games from guards Ayo Dosunmu and Trent Frazier would push the Fighting Illini to the finish line. Dosunmu chipped in 25 points, while Trent Frazier scored a season high 24 points.

Indiana (9-7, 4-5) is coming off of a home loss to Rutgers, but only after going into Carter-Hawkeye Arena and defeating then No. 4 Iowa. This Hoosiers team has struggled with consistency, and their coming into this contest a bit banged up, potential missing two key players. 

In the meeting on Dec. 26, Illinois took down Indiana 69-60 behind big games from Dosumnu and big man Kofi Cockburn, and they are looking to do the same thing this time around in Bloomington.

Illinois Is Looking to Built Momentum

The Fighting Illini are having their best season in a long time. They could potentially win the Big Ten for the first time since 2005 when they were led by Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head, if they handle these next three games the right way. 

The win over Iowa moved Illinois into second place, so with a matchup against No. 4 Michigan looming next week, they should look to keep things going against Hoosiers.

Dosumnu and Cockburn have been the heart beats of the team this year. Dosunmu leads the team in scoring (21.9) while managing to shoot 50%. The Hoosiers held a five point lead in the prior meeting before the junior guard would score 18 points in the final nine minutes. 

He finished with 30 in the first contest, and after coming off of a big game last Friday, he should look to maintain that momentum. Cockburn is the man in the middle, and he patrols the paint at will, averaging a double-double and nearly two blocks per game. 

Senior guard Trent Frazier is coming off of his best game of the season, while freshman guard Andre Curbelo heads the offense and is coming off of an eight-assist game. More than anything, this Illinois team is coming into this game healthy and that may be what makes the difference in this one.

kofi ayo

Indiana is Looking to Find Consistency

After defeating Iowa on the road, the Hoosiers would lose to Rutgers at home, summing up their season so far. Indiana has failed to win back-to-back games since the start of 2021. They may come into this battle with Illinois a tad short handed. Their second leading scorer, Armaan Franklin might miss the game, and freshman guard Trey Galloway might as well. 

Despite those injuries, the Hoosiers will have a home floor on their side and a pretty good player in Trayce Jackson-Davis. The sophomore forward is coming out of a quiet outing vs. Rutgers, but he leads the team in scoring and rebounding, while averaging nearly two blocks per game.

He’s a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate, and despite the timely injuries, he still has some quality help on the roster. Senior guard Aljami Durham has taken on a bigger role this season, improving his averages across the board. Junior guard Rob Phinisee does a solid job running the offense and he was huge against Iowa, canning four treys. 

Race Thompson and Jerome Hunter are going to have to help keep Jackson-Davis clean while dealing with the tall task of Kofi Cockburn. Thompson has really improved with more playing time this season, and they will really count on Hunter to stretch the floor with Franklin potentially out.

illinois fighting illini at indiana hoosiers betting

Illinois Fighting Illini at Indiana Hoosiers Betting Pick

In their first meeting from Champaign, Indiana did indeed keep things close. They will have a chance tonight on their home floor, but Illinois is going to prevail behind their firepower. The inside-outside combo of Dosumnu and Cockburn may just be too much for an undermanned Indiana team. They will miss Armaan Franklin in this one. 

With three Big Ten POY candidates, this should be a good one. The Hoosiers present an enticing option against the spread so far this year, but look for Illinois to pick up the road victory over Indiana and complete the season sweep.