The Wisconsin Badgers have won two straight since their loss to fourteenth ranked Michigan State on January 21. Next, they will face the Illinois Fighting Illini, who are their co-leaders in the Big Ten Conference.
Illinois is 2-2 in their last four games and has won two in a row. Both teams are 8-2 in conference play and are tied for first place with Michigan State.
Wisconsin and Illinois are nationally ranked, and both teams need this victory to stay at the top of the conference and not fall in the AP Top-25.
Wisconsin is ranked eleventh in the country, and Illinois is currently fifteenth in the national poll. So a win for either team would put them alone in first place at least for a couple of days until Michigan State plays their next game against Rutgers on Saturday.
The Badgers were winners of seven straight games before their 86-74 loss at home to Michigan State. However, they need to win their third consecutive game tonight if they hope to stay at the top of the Big Ten.
Their last victory was against Minnesota 66-60 on Saturday at home. Johnny Davis led the Badgers with 16 points and 15 rebounds to help the team get their seventeenth win of the year.
Davis is ranked as one of the top players in the country and is averaging 21.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. He also leads the team in assists with 2.4 per matchup and steals with 1.3 per game.
Brad Davison is second in scoring for Wisconsin with 15.7 points per game. He’s also second in assists with 2.2 per contest.
The Fighting Illini are glad to have their star center Cofi Cockburn back in the lineup after he missed two straight games with a concussion. In his return against Northwestern on Saturday, he scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help Illinois hold off the Wildcats 59-56.
Cockburn missed the previous matchup against Michigan State, which the Illini won 56-55. Andre Curbelo was also out for this game. After being out for two months with a concussion, he had recently returned and missed this game due to health and safety protocols.
Cockburn is a top candidate for the John Wooden Award, given to the top player in college basketball each season. He is ninth in the country in scoring, averaging 21.1 points per game, trailing just behind Johnny Davis of Wisconsin, who is eighth. He is also fourth in the country in rebounding with 11.6 per game.
For Wisconsin, the total has gone over in eight of their last ten games, and they are 1-4 against the spread in the last five games vs. the Fighting Illini.
For Illinois, the total has gone over in eleven of their last sixteen games, and they are 1-7 against the spread in their previous eight games at home against the Badgers.
The odds favor Illinois at home for this tight matchup for the lead in the Big Ten. It should be pretty entertaining with two of the top players in the country being featured in this game.