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Illini basketball preview: Minnesota

Illinois vs. Minnesota
3 pm
Big Ten Network

The World Series trophy will be at State Farm Center this Saturday, where a basketball contest will also be conducted. Demand for this event is rather high, as ticket prices are holding steady at $30 via the Fighting Illini ticket office and $34 on Stub Hub. 

As for the basketball, Illinois plays host to a Minnesota team that looked so promising just a few short weeks ago. The Gophers had consecutive wins over Purdue, Northwestern and Ohio State early in conference play, but have since dropped five games in a row, matching Illinois at 3-6 in Big Ten games. Nate Mason is Minnesota’s biggest threat, as the do-everything guard is averaging 14 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and more than 1 steal per game. 

It’s a real toss-up which Minnesota team shows up, but the same is true for the Illini. If the Illinois team that beat VCU and the Gophers team that took Wisconsin to overtime a week ago show up, this could be a good game. Skepticism reigns as to whether this scenario actually plays out, however. But we’re likely entering the last five weeks of the John Groce era, so some may enjoy that upside.

My prediction: The line to see the Cubs’ trophy will be more widely enjoyed than the spectacle on the court. 

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