By Greg Mroz
Champaign, Ill – Here are 3 things to think about before Northwestern’s road tilt against Illinois
1. Illini in foul trouble
Illinois has had trouble keeping out of foul trouble, especially in the post. Nnanna Egwu in particular has been in foul trouble often, fouling out against Iowa on Wednesday, but his impact is more critical on the defensive than offensive end, as he hasn’t scored in double figures since February 7th against Michigan State when he poured in 12. If Egwu is forced out of the game because of foul trouble, look for Northwestern to feed Alex Olah often.
2. Forcing Illinois outside
Like it did against Indiana, Northwestern’s zone will force the Illini to shoot a lot of three pointers, but unlike the Hoosiers, Illinois is not nearly as proficient of a shooting team. The Illini shoot 41.8 percent as a team, which ranks 12th in the Big Ten. However, from the three point line, Illinois shoots 36 percent which ranks 6th in the conference. Watch out for grad transfer Ahmad Starks, Oregon State’s all time leader in three pointers made. He is shooting 33.6 percent from deep, but can be deadly when he heats up. Against Iowa on Wednesday, Starks was 5 of 9 from three land.
3. Tre Demps staying hot
During the Wildcats current four game winning streak, Demps has been hot and efficient, going 8 for 12 against Indiana and shooting 5 of 10 from the field against Penn State. Demps has also scored 11 or more points in each of the last five games, and is getting a lot of open opportunities coming off of screens. He is taking smarter shots and waiting for the right opportunity to attack, which has proven dividends for the Wildcat offense.