The Boilermakers are 14-2 and ranked seventh in the AP Top-25, but are in sixth place in the Big-10 standings. Both of their losses have been against conference opponents this season. Illinois is ranked twenty-fifth in the country but leads the Big-10 with a 6-0 record.
Purdue cannot afford another loss in this game, which would drop them to seventh and all but end their hopes of winning the conference regular-season title. Illinois has won eleven of their last twelve games since starting the season at 2-2 and recently moved into the national rankings after winning against Michigan.
The Big-10 is more competitive than in recent years, and the Boilermakers can’t afford to take any more losses in the conference. They are 3-2 and now must face the leading team in Illinois.
Purdue is 5-2 in their last seven games, with their last defeat coming against Johnny Davis and the Wisconsin Badgers. Davis dominated in the game, scoring 37 and pulling down 14 rebounds in his team’s five-point win. The loss dropped Purdue four spots in the national rankings to number seven in the AP Top-25.
Purdue is led this season by Jaden Ivey, who averages 16.2 points and 1.2 steals per game. In addition, Trevion Williams is the teams leading rebounder with 8.6 per contest. In the team’s last matchup on Friday, they defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 92-65, with their 7’4″ center Zach Edey leading the scoring with 22 points and nine rebounds.
The Fighting Illini lead the Big-10 with a 6-0 record and recently broke into the national rankings after their sixth straight win against Michigan.
Both Wisconsin and Michigan State are just one game behind them in the standings. With Illinois set to face the tenth-ranked Spartans next week, they must win tonight if they hope to hold onto their conference lead.
All season, the Illini have been led by their 7′ center Kofi Cockburn, who’s putting up 21.9 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. Alfonso Plummer is second with 15.9 points.
On Friday, they won over the Michigan Wolverines 68-53, with Cockburn scoring 21 and grabbing ten rebounds. Trent Frazier followed him with 18 points and seven assists.
For Purdue, the total has gone under in six of their last seven games on the road, and they are 1-4 against the spread against Illinois in their last five matchups.
The Illini are 5-1 against the spread in their previous six games and are also 5-0 against the spread in their previous five games at home vs. Boilermakers.
Illinois is favored in this matchup and should be able to extend their winning streak at home. However, if they hope to win, Purdue needs to figure out a way to stop Kofi Cockburn, who has dominated defenses all season.