(ILL – 14.5)
Is Illinois at Nebraska a trap game?? The day is Friday, February 12, 2021. Most of you thought Illinois would play Michigan last night in a marquee Top 10 matchup. Well, you were wrong. Shame on you for thinking that Michigan could fully recover from COVID-19 concerns, practice twice and step on the hardwood with a college basketball juggernaut such as the Fighting Illini.
You can’t mentally prepare yourself for Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn in two practices! Now, if you’re Michigan’s women’s program, go ahead and play! But the boys just need a little more time to prepare for their gamey games.
“Please don’t make us go out there Coach Howard, I’m nervous!” -half of Michigan’s men’s basketball roster, probably.
“It’s okay, kids! We don’t have to play them if we don’t want to. They’re giving us a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament already!” -said Juwan, likely.
Okay, I’m done complaining. The true mark of a competitor is his or her ability to move on. And that’s what we’re going to do as fans of the best B1G basketball team in the country. Next up mentality.
We have Nebraska AT Nebraska at 8 PM CST tonight. Thank God it’s a Friday. 8 pm start times will be the death of me. And it could literally take my soul out of its body tonight if Illinois doesn’t show up.
Winner of their last four games (13-5 overall), #6 Illinois is trending is the perfect direction with March right around the corner. Some would say this is a trap game. Last second scheduled, flying out to Nebraska and sitting in the hotel all day in preparation for the late-night tip-off.
Pessimistic Zac knows the Illinois of old would not win this game. But I’m afraid Fred Hoiberg’s Cornhuskers just aren’t good enough to disappoint me.
Sitting at 4-11 overall (0-8 in B1G conference play), the Cornhuskers are just a bad basketball team. It’s simple as that. You couple the worst jerseys with the worst talent, and you create a monstrous disaster. With Hoiberg turn it around in the future? Inevitably so. But this year is still a rebuilding year.
They’re led by Teddy Allen and Dalano Banton. Allen puts up 17 points and game and Banton does all the dirty work. Banton is a nice little small forward, three-guard combo who can kind of do it all.
He’s probably the guy that gives Illinois the most fits tonight. Standing at 6’9, he presents a little bit of a matchup issue with his athleticism. I’m hoping Illinois can jump out and control the game from the tip (as they should) and we can let Coleman Hawkins get some serious playing time. Both 6’9+ and barely over 200 pounds soaking wet is the matchup we deserve.
But after that, I mean who the heck is going to guard Kofi? They don’t have a dude over 6’9 or over 240 pounds. Yes, this is a trap game. So how do we avoid it? We start by pounding the rock down low to our 7’ 290-pound center and set a precedent.
Illinois at Nebraska Trap Game?
After saying that, now I don’t feel like it’s a trap game. We have such a clear advantage that even a normally scheduled groggy start can be withstood.
Wisconsin struggled in the first half against Nebraska on Wednesday but ended up winning by 13. I think we’re going to see something similar out of the Illini tonight, but I hope I’m wrong.
I don’t know; I’m in my head. But I like Illinois to win and Nebraska to cover the 14.5 points. Why? Because every time I write a preview, I’ve taken Illinois to cover and they haven’t. Fading myself tonight. Watch Illinois win, but watch it somehow be scary.