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    Game Day Essentials: Game #33 vs #13 Illinois- B1G Semifinals

      Nebraska Cornhuskers (23-9) vs #13 Illinois Fighting Illini (24-8)


      Date: Saturday March 16th,  2024
      Time:  2:30 pm 
      Arena: Target Center, Minneapolis 

      Broadcast:  CBS

    Illinois Info

    Head Coach: Brad Underwood (7th season)

    Location: Champaign, IL 
    Conference: B1G
    Nickname: Fightin' Illini

    MascotChief Illiniwek They got rid of Chief Illiniwek in 2007

    Typical Rotation Depth: 7+

    Point Spread: Illinois by 4.5

    Last Time out: Beat Ohio St

    KenPom rank: 10

    Nota bene:  

    • This will be Nebraska's first time playing in the B1G semifinal game
    • Illinois is KenPom's 12th most experienced team in terms of his D-1 Experience metric
    • Illinois is KenPom's 9th tallest team in terms of KenPom's average height metric
    • Illinois has won 8 straight vs the Huskers
    • Fred Hoiberg has never beaten Illinois


    KenPom most used lineups

      PG SG SF PF C Pct
    3 Marcus Domask
    6-6  215  Sr
    20 Ty Rodgers
    6-6  200  So
    0 Terrence Shannon
    6-6  225  Sr
    13 Quincy Guerrier
    6-8  220  Sr
    33 Coleman Hawkins
    6-10  225  Sr


    Player to watch: Terrance Shannon

    Shannon is like an elite Terran Petteway where he can get to the rim almost at will and draw a lot of contact on the way.  Often a one-man fast break, you'll be better served to turn him into a 3pt shooter where he makes a pedestrian 35%


    Player to watch: Marcus Domask

    The 3-time All Valley Southern Illinois transfer guard has become a Brice Williams type PG for this team. Domask is like a Terrance Shannon lite where he's a lot better at getting to the rim than he is at shooting from outside though his numbers from 3 have picked up in conference play.


    Player to watch:    Coleman Hawkins

    Hawkins has blossomed into a 4/5 man who can hit 40% from 3 and protect the rim. For whatever reason he's stopped shooting 3s in March though that could change vs Nebraska's style of defense.


    Others to watch

    Oregon transfer Quincy Guerrier's nose for rebounding and ability to take outside shots have cemented his role as the starting 4 man for the Illini. Luke Goode is a sniper at the 3-4 but has seen his minutes drop significantly as Illinois has tightened their rotation. Beefy center Dain Dainja tends to be hit or miss in playing time but is capable of scoring in bunches. Ty Rodgers is the glue guy where he's a high level rebounder but the 6'6' F isn't a threat to take a 3. Utah Valley transfer Justin Harmon is another glue-guy type but is hitting 3s at about a 40% clip.


    UNL Game Notes


    Out indefinitely 

    5   Ahron Ulis     6-3    190 lbs    Junior - Likely out for the season


    Emergency use 

    15  Blaise Keita     6-11    257 lbs    Junior - Ongoing ankle injury recovery


    Possible starters for Nebraska

    53   Josiah Allick                 6-8    231 lbs    Senior

    30   Keisei Tominaga           6-2    179 lbs    Senior

    3     Brice Williams               6-7    213 lbs    Junior

    4   Juwan Gary                   6-6    221 lbs    Junior

    51    Rienk Mast                 6-10    248 lbs    Junior



    10    Jamarques Lawrence  6-3    183 lbs    Sophomore

    0    C.J. Wilcher                  6-5    214 lbs    Junior

    9    Jarron Coleman            6-5    213 lbs    Senior
    1    Sam Hoiberg                 6-0    183 lbs    Sophomore
    11    Eli Rice                         6-8    213 lbs    Freshman
    21    Matar Diop                 6-10    213 lbs    Freshman

    35    Henry Burt                  6-7    216 lbs    RS Freshman

    2    Ramel Lloyd Jr.             6-6    210 lbs    RS Freshman

    31    Cale Jacobsen            6-4    200 lbs    RS Freshman

    24    Jeffrey Grace III         6-3    197 lbs    Sophomore 


    The Skinny: 

    Nebraska has been rolling at the right time but runs into an Illinois team that isn't a particularly good matchup.  Illinois has been the best at the conference at taking away the 3 and often making teams beat you by hero ball.  The Huskers did manage 28 3 point attempts at Illinois so sometimes it's a battle of wills.


    Illinois is almost exclusively trying to force you into bad shots so the majority of turnovers by Nebraska will be self-inflicted. The Illini will pound the offensive glass intensely so expect Nebraska to send everyone to the glass today. 


    The Huskers have been rationing their minutes if for no other reason their rotation allows them to do so without a significant drop of performance.  The Huskers should still be fresh enough despite the quick turnaround.  I think Illinois is quite serious about trying to win this tournament but you can't shake the feeling that they're likely focused on trying to figure out how to beat Purdue, especially after they probably should have lost to Ohio St.


    Nebraska is good enough to beat the Illini and are truly focused on one game at a time.


    Prediction: Nebraska 82 - Illinois 77

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