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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, February 23, 2024

The Badgers will need to bring intensity as they face a peaking Illinois team in Champaign.

Badgers hope to keep up defensive intensity in weekend trip to Champaign against Illini

The No. 19 Wisconsin Badgers (8-4 Big Ten, 14-5 overall) travel to Champaign, Illinois Saturday afternoon to take on the No. 12 Illinois Fighting Illini (8-3 Big Ten, 12-5 overall) in a battle between two of the top four Big Ten teams.

Wisconsin is coming off a stretch of rocky outings, losing to both Ohio State and Penn State in their last four games. Meanwhile Illinois has righted the ship — winning their last three games after falling to Maryland and Ohio State in back to back games in mid-January. 

“They’re really good in transition, they space the floor really well and obviously they have a really good post in Kofi [Cockburn],” D’Mitrik Trice said in a press conference Thursday. “They’re playing fast and free, they’re sharing the ball really well, and that’s what makes them pretty dangerous.”

Illinois plays a high paced game, scoring over 82 points a game on 50.1 percent shooting. The Illini are led by junior guard Ayo Dosunmu who racks up 21.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. 

On the other end of the spectrum Wisconsin scores just 72 points per game and are led by D’Mitrik Trice with 13.3 points per game.

“Ayo is obviously a really good, NBA caliber player, and he’s going to be a focal point for any team’s defensive strategy,” Trice said. “But if we can play together as a defensive unit like we did in the second half of the Penn State game I think we can shut anyone down.”

While Wisconsin is the underdog in the matchup, they have won in each of their last seven trips to Champaign, which is the longest-ever win streak by any team at Illinois. The Badgers had won 15 straight against Illinois until the streak was snapped by a 71-70 loss in Madison.

The game is set to tip at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. You can watch it on Fox.

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