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Illini basketball preview: Iowa

Illinois at Iowa
1 p.m.
Big Ten Network

Illinois has been off all week, I’m sure you noticed. Anyway, here’s some good news:

Honestly, if you’re not laughing at John Groce’s spin these days, what are you laughing at? There’s not much left to say about the Illini this year, other than speculate on the team’s future. This isn’t that kind of article, so here’s some info on Iowa.

First, Illinois has beaten Iowa this year. You might not remember the 76-64 win on January 25, because winning seems like something that doesn’t happen anymore, but it’s a fact. In that game Iowa’s stud, Peter Jok, was playing hurt. It showed, as he only had 10 rather anonymous points and 2 rebounds. He sat out the next two games for the Hawkeyes and has come back to be almost his old self, with 12, 28, and 13 points in their last three games. 

Beyond Jok the Hawkeyes are a ragtag bunch, but they’ve managed a topsy-turvy Big Ten season much better than the Illini. At 6-7 in conference, Iowa is only a win from being in the top half of the standings, though their 14-12 record (same as Illinois) is more indicative of where they’ll be playing in the postseason (the NIT with a bunch of other Big Ten teams). Fran McCaffrey has extracted value from his bench this season, getting big wins over Iowa State and Purdue. I’d expect something similar when Illinois comes to town.

My prediction suggestion: Go for a hike and enjoy the nice weather rather than watch this game. 

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