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CBB Wisconsin at Illinois Preview

January 20, 2007

College Basketball - Wisconsin Badgers (-2, 126) at Illinois Fighting Illini 2:00 PM EST

Wisconsin (18-1, 4-0 Big 10) is the second ranked team in the country according to the AP. And while it is hard to believe that they are a better team than lower ranked, UCLA, Kansas, or North Carolina, the Badgers have earned the ranking with their great start.

Now, Wisconsin takes their 14 game winning streak to Champaign, Illinois, a notoriously tough place for any visiting team.

Illinois (14-6, 2-3 Big 10) has felt the sting of graduation of guard Dee Brown and center, James Augustine. Fortunately, the cupboard is not bare and they do have a plethora of big men with Brian Randle, Warren Carter, and Shaun Pruitt.

If Illinois is going to pull off the upset in this game, they must contain Wisconsin’s Alando Tucker. The senior forward is the epitome of what a college basketball player should be about. Tucker is a National Player of the Year candidate, averaging 19.5 points per game.

Illinois has beaten up on a lot of weak teams at home this year, with their only significant victory over Iowa. The two home losses were to Maryland in the ACC, and a very talented, but young Ohio State squad.

In order to beat the Badgers, Illinois must get better play from point guard, Trent Meacham. Meacham is in the spotlight due to a groin injury suffered by Chester Frazier.

Meacham had 12 points and five assists in their first Big 10 road win of the year, 64-52 at Minnesota on Wednesday. Still, he has been far too inconsistent, having just nine points and six assists total in Illinois’ first four conference games. If Meacham plays well, then there are enough scorers on this team to keep it close.

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