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Men’s Basketball Preview: Penn State @ Illinois

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Will the Nittany Lions put up a better fight than in their home finale?

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Scouting The Opposition

There’s a good reason why Illinois is ranked in the top 20 nationally. Everyone’s favorite post player Kofi Cockburn leads the Illini in scoring, averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting over 60 percent from the field. The seven-footer is the only player in the country to average 20 and 10, and is as expected, in contention for several national awards. He is joined in averaging double figures by three other players, including super-senior guard Trent Frazier, the team’s leader in assists per game, and graduate student and former Utah Ute Alfonso Plummer. Plummer is Illinois’ second-leading scorer at 15.5 points per contest.

As a team, Illinois is third in the conference in scoring, second in field goal percentage defense, and unsurprisingly given the towering Cockburn, tops in the Big Ten in rebounding.

What To Watch For

After Penn State’s disastrous performance against Nebraska, can they compete on the road against one of the conference’s best teams? Despite his height disadvantage, John Harrar has given Cockburn fits in the past, so we’ll see if he’s able to slow down the big man in the paint.

Prediction

Penn State has a penchant for not showing up against teams they should hang with, and playing better against top competition. The home team wins, but it’s perhaps closer than it should be.

Illinois 80, Penn State 71