Northwestern, Illinois meet in Big Ten tourney
Big Ten Tourney First Round, United Center, Chicago; Wednesday, 8 p.m. EDT
BOTTOM LINE: Northwestern is set to face off against Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. The teams split the regular season series at one win apiece. The teams last faced each other on March 3, when the Fighting Illini outshot Northwestern 44.7 percent to 40 percent and hit 16 more free throws on the way to an 81-76 victory.
VARYING EXPERIENCE: Northwestern has been fueled by senior leadership while Illinois has leaned on freshmen this year. For the Wildcats, seniors Vic Law, Dererk Pardon, A.J. Turner, Ryan Taylor and Anthony Gaines have combined to account for 81 percent of the team’s scoring, including 89 percent of all points over its last five. In the other locker room, freshmen Ayo Dosunmu, Trent Frazier and Giorgi Bezhanishvili have collectively accounted for 53 percent of all Illinois scoring this season.
LOVE FOR LAW: Law has connected on 33.5 percent of the 167 3-pointers he’s attempted and has made 10 of 27 over his last five games. He’s also made 78.6 percent of his free throws this season.
WINLESS WHEN: Northwestern is 0-12 when scoring fewer than 60 points and 13-6 when scoring at least 60.
ACCOUNTING FOR ASSISTS: The Illini have recently used assists to create baskets more often than the Wildcats. Illinois has 42 assists on 65 field goals (64.6 percent) across its previous three contests while Northwestern has assists on 42 of 71 field goals (59.2 percent) during its past three games.
DID YOU KNOW: The sturdy Northwestern defense has held opponents to just 64.8 points per game, the 29th-lowest in Division I. Illinois has given up an average of 75.2 points through 31 games (ranked 236th, nationally).