Sconnie Sports Talk

Wisconsin ready to start new streak vs. Illinois on Sunday


The Badgers (16-10, 8-5) look to rebound from their lackluster effort against Michigan State, playing Illinois (12-14, 4-9) on Sunday at 6:30 P.M. (BTN).

The Badgers took the first matchup in Champaign, winning 63-55 on January 31. Khalil Iverson sparked the win that night, scoring 10 points and adding 5 rebounds in a close game.

Projected Starters

Projected Wisconsin Starters

G: Bronson Koenig (13.4 PPG, 2.3 APG)
G: Zak Showalter (7.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG)
F: Nigel Hayes (16.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.3 APG)
F: Vitto Brown (9.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG)
F: Ethan Happ (11.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG)

Projected Illinois Starters

G: Khalid Lewis (3.7 PPG, 3.1 APG)
G: Jalen Coleman-Lands (9.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG)
G: Kendrick Nunn (16.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG)
G: Malcolm Hill (18.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.5 APG)
C: Maverick Morgan (7.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG)


Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn form the Fighting Illini’s dynamic duo, with the two averaging 18.5 and 16.5 points per game respectively. In the first game, those two got their numbers, scoring 22 and 15, although Nunn was hurt for part of the game. Still, the Badgers did a great job of stopping everyone else. Only four other Illinois players scored, and the highest scorer out of those four was Aaron Jordan, who only had 7.

The Badgers were not great on the offensive end, but they got solid bench production from Vitto Brown and Khalil Iverson, who combined for 19 points. Nigel Hayes is coming off one of the worst outings of his college career, but he should be able to bounce back on Sunday.

Just like the last game, the Badgers will have some issues with Illinois’ speed. The Fighting Illini start four guards, which is why Iverson saw extended minutes in the first game. With Ethan Happ’s recent struggle and inability to knock down jumpers, the only true big man for Illinois, Maverick Morgan, will guard him. Nigel Hayes or Vitto Brown will have a guard on them, so look for the Badgers to get one of those two on the blocks.

The Badgers will look to make adjustments to make Hill and Nunn’s lives more difficult on the offensive end, but as long as they keep them in check, Illinois role players haven’t proved to be explosive enough to win a game yet.

Bottom Line

The Badgers are currently in the tournament at the moment, but a loss at home to a 12-14 team would surely change that, making this a must win. The matchups are there to exploit on the offensive end, and on the defensive end, the biggest key is to keep Hill and Nunn from having a career night and carrying Illinois to a win.

As Greg Gard said after Friday’s practice, it’s time to start a new streak.

Photo courtesy of Mike Granse / USA Today Sports.