Records: Indiana (10-3), Illinois (11-2)
When: 3 p.m. today
Where: State Farm Center, Champaign, Ill.
Radio: 1250 AM
Indiana leaders: Yogi Ferrell (16.8 ppg), Noah Vonleh (9.5 rpg), Ferrell (4.1 apg)
Illinois leaders: Rayvonte Rice (18.2 ppg), Jon Ekey (6.0 rpg), Tracy Abrams (3.2 apg)
Key matchup: Will Sheehey vs. Will Sheehey. The sixth man of the year in the Big Ten has been nowhere close to what was expected of him this season. Though he’s averaging 10.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in pre-Big Ten games, he’s been all but invisible with the exception of the Connecticut game, when he scored 12 points and took five rebounds in 35 minutes. Against No. 4 Syracuse, however, he contributed just three points on seven shots and no rebounds in 23 minutes. He’ll need to step it up to lead a young Indiana team opening on the road against a young Illinois team that has two veteran bigs (Nnana Egwu and Jon Ekey) going up against 6-10 IU freshman Noah Vonleh, who leads the Big Ten in rebounding.
The skinny: Indiana returns to the scene of a 74-72 upset loss last season when the Hoosiers were ranked No. 1. The Hoosiers haven’t won in Champaign since Feb. 7, 2008, when they escaped 83-79 in two overtimes. Rayvonte Rice won his second Big Ten Player of the Week honor last week after dropping 28 points in a win over Illinois-Chicago. Yogi Ferrell leads the Hoosiers in scoring, assists and at the 3-point line. With the sudden departure of 6-11 center Luke Fischer, who was averaging 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in 10 minutes per game, the search is on to find an inside complement to Vonleh (12.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg). Best option might be 6-8 Jeremy Hollowell, who averages 8.6 points and 4.2 rebounds.
– Ben Smith, The Journal Gazette