Game 29 Notes/Links: Illinois vs. Wisconsin
March 6, 2013
The Game: Illinois, the No. 6 seed in the 2013 Big Ten Tournament, looks to rebound from consecutive losses when it faces 11th-seeded Wisconsin in the first round of the tournament at approximately 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 7. It will be the second game of the day at the Sears Centre Arena, following the tilt between No. 7 seed Iowa and 10th-seeded Northwestern at 11:30 a.m. It marks the sixth-straight year that the Illini play in the tournament's first round, and Illinois is 4-1 in that round in the last five years. The Orange and Blue swept the season series from the Badgers in 2012-13, winning 64-56 in Madison on Feb. 3 and 60-53 in Champaign on Feb. 18.
Looking Ahead: The winner of the Illinois-Wisconsin contest will advance to the quarterfinals to face No. 3 seed Purdue at approximately 2 p.m. on Friday. The winner of that game will take on either No. 2 Nebraska or the winner of the opening-round game between No. 7 Iowa and No. 10 Northwestern in the semifinals on Saturday, March 9, at 4 p.m.
Illini Notch Best Big Ten Record in 10 Years: The Illini went 9-7 in Big Ten play, marking their first winning record in conference action since 2002-03 (9-7, sixth place). The 2002-03 season also is the last time Illinois reached the NCAA Tournament.
Illini Clinch Postseason Berth: With its win over Wisconsin on Feb. 18, Illinois secured its 15th win of the season and locked up a postseason bid as it is guaranteed to finish the season with a winning record. It marks the first time in the last three years that Illinois will play beyond the Big Ten Tournament. Illinois last finished over .500 overall in 2009-10 when it went 19-15 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT.
Illinois Strong Down the Stretch: The Orange and Blue have played well of late, winning six of their last 10 games. That makes the Illini tied for the third-hottest team in the Big Ten behind Nebraska (9-1) and Penn State (8-2). Michigan State and Ohio State also are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
The House of 'Paign: The Illini won four of their last five home games after opening the Big Ten season 0-3 at Assembly Hall. Illinois finished the regular-season 9-7 at home, 4-4 in home Big Ten games. A big factor in that was Illinois' improved attendance. The Illini averaged 2,026 per game on the season, nearly doubling last year's average of 1,070. It was even clearer in Big Ten play, as Illinois averaged 2,530 compared to 1,198 in 2011-12, a 111 percent increase.
Turnaround in Progress: With 16 wins so far this season, the Illini have surpassed the squad's win totals from each of the past two seasons (11, 2011-12; 9, 2010-11). Through 28 games last season, the Illini were 11-17 overall, 5-10 in the Big Ten. Two years ago, Illinois was 7-21 overall, 2-13 in the Big Ten.
Illini Put Foes Under Pressure: Illinois has racheted up the defensive pressure since Adrienne Godbold's return, forcing 109 more turnovers this season than in all of last year (664-536) in two fewer games. The Illini have forced 423 turnovers in their last 17 games (24.9 per game), and 397 in 16 Big Ten games (24.8 pg), which breaks the 25-year-old record for turnovers forced per game in a conference season (23.5, Ohio State, 1988). Illinois has forced or equaled an opponent's season high in turnovers in eight games this year, including three of the last four (No. 7 Penn State, Indiana and Ohio State).
Illini Taking What Isn't Theirs: The Illini lead the Big Ten and rank seventh nationally in steals per game (12.8) and also led the league with 14.6 steals per game during conference play, 2.8 steals per game more than second-place Penn State (11.8). Illinois broke the school record for steals with 18 at No. 7 PSU on Feb. 20, and needs 45 more to break the Big Ten record for steals in a season. With 232 steals during conference play, the Illini broke the record for steals and steals per game in a Big Ten season, as those marks are 232 by the 1985 Ohio State team and 12.9 by the 1996 Wisconsin squad, respectively. The Illini broke the school record for most steals in a Big Ten game with 24 at Northwestern on Jan 10. Illinois has recorded double-digit steals in 21 of 28 games and 14 of the last 16.
Stealing the Spotlight: A pair of Illini players occupy the top two spots in steals per game in conference play, and four are in the top seven. Karisma Penn leads the league in Big Ten games (3.6 spg), while Adrienne Godbold is tied for second (3.4 spg), Ivory Crawford is fifth (2.6 spg) and Alexis Smith is seventh (2.3 spg).
Illinois Gets It Done Down Low: Despite usually being out-sized, the Illini have held their own in the paint lately, outscoring their last 17 foes 516-491 in the post, an average of 30.4-28.9 per game. Illinois out-paced No. 6 Georgia 32-18, outscored No. 14 Purdue 38-28, bested Michigan 44-32, topped Minnesota 34-28 (Feb. 10), out-muscled Wisconsin 30-22 (Feb. 18) and outscored No. 25 Purdue 46-42 (March 3).
RPI Within Range: The Illini's RPI, according to WarrenNolan.com, stands at No. 64 and the Orange and Blue have faced one of the top schedules in the country, as Illinois' slate is rated No. 33. Six of the Illini's Big Ten foes have RPI figures in the top 40, while three more are in the top 100 (Ohio State, 61; Minnesota, 70; Northwestern, 99). Illinois is 7-11 against teams ranked in the top 100 of the RPI, including wins over No. 15 Nebraska, No. 19 Georgia and No. 37 Iowa.
Sagarin Favors Illini: The Illini fare much better in the Sagarin ratings than in the RPI, as Jeff Sagarin's formula ranks Illinois No. 44 with a schedule strength of 21. According to the Sagarin ratings, the Illini have six top-50 wins and nine against the top-100.
GodBold Shows She Was UI's Missing Piece: After missing the first semester for academic reasons, senior guard Adrienne Godbold has been a force. She has scored in double digits in 16 of the 17 games she has played, including five 20-point efforts. Prior to this season, GodBold had only three 20-point games in her career. In Big Ten play, GodBold ranked fifth in the league with 17.7 points per game, tied for second in steals (3.4 per game), fourth in offensive rebounding (3.5 rpg), 10th in rebounding (7.3 rpg) and 11th in free-throw percentage (.815), the only guard in the top 10 in rebounding.
Penn Does It All: Senior forward Karisma Penn ranks second in the Big Ten in rebounding and steals, third in blocked shots, fourth in scoring and fifth in field-goal percentage, making her the only player in the conference to rank in the top five in all five categories. She also is the only post player in the top 15 in the league in steals and top 10 in minutes played (eighth, 35.6 mpg). A career 13.9 ppg scorer entering the season, Penn is scoring at a 19.4 ppg rate this year.
Moore is Better: Junior guard Amber Moore also has increased her productivity under first-year head coach Matt Bollant, averaging 11.9 points per game after entering the season with a career average of 9.2 ppg. Moore is averaging 2.5 three-point field goals per game, fourth-best in the Big Ten, and Illinois is 10-1 when she makes three or more triples in a game. Moore also ranks fourth in the league in minutes played (36.8 mpg), and is among conference leaders in scoring (22nd) and three-point field-goal percentage (13th, .350).
Scouting The Badgers
Wisconsin shocked the world of women's basketball with a 63-61 win over Penn State on Jan. 31 but has had little else to celebrate during Big Ten play, with only home victories over Ohio State and Indiana in the win column. The Badgers are 2-12 away from home this season, with wins at Washington State (Nov. 18), at Virginia Tech (Nov. 28) and against Delaware State (Dec. 28) at the Miami Holiday Invitational. Wisconsin has seen its RPI figure tumble in recent weeks, dropping 55 spots from where it stood before the first meeting with the Illini to No. 129. UW has the 31st-best schedule in the nation.
In Big Ten games, Wisconsin ranks 11th in scoring offense (54.4 ppg) but stays in games with its defense, ranking fifth in the league in scoring D (61.1 ppg). The Badgers rank fourth in field-goal percentage defense, tied for eighth in three-point defense, 10th in rebounding margin and 11th in turnover margin, field-goal percentage and three-point field-goal percentage.
Junior Morgan Paige ranks seventh in the Big Ten in scoring (15.5 ppg) in conference games and sophomore Jackie Gulczynski is 10th (14.6 ppg), but there isn't another Badger in the top 30. Junior Cassie Rochel is second in rebounding (10.2 rpg) and leads the league in field-goal percentage (.545) and blocks (2.6 per game). Senior Tiera Stephen is sixth in steals (2.9 spg) and assists (4.7 apg).
Wisconsin Series History