Game 21 preview | No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 18 Illinois; 8 p.m., Wednesday | Sports


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No. 18 Illinois (15-5, 8-2 Big Ten)


P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Trent Frazier Sr. 6-2 13.1 Wellington, Fla.

G Alfonso Plummer Gr. 6-1 15.8 Fajardo, Puerto Rico

G Da’Monte Williams Sr. 6-3 3.9 Peoria

F Jacob Grandison Gr. 6-6 10.7 Oakland, Calif.

C Kofi Cockburn Jr. 7-0 21.1 Kingston, Jamaica

FYI: Cockburn has slipped to a four-way tie for eighth nationally with 11 double-doubles this season. Cockburn’s last double-double came in Illinois’ home win against Michigan on Jan. 14. The Illinois center, however, has accumulated those 11 double-doubles in fewer games played (15) than the other three players tied for eighth — Boston’s Sukhmail Mathon, Weber State’s Dillon Jones and Fordham’s Chuba Ohams. Leading the country with 17 double-doubles in 20 games is Utah Valley’s Fardaws Aimaq. North Carolina’s Armando Bacot is second with 16 double-doubles in 21 games.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

F Coleman Hawkins So. 6-10 6.2 Sacramento, Calif.

F Omar Payne Jr. 6-10 2.2 Kissimmee, Fla.

G RJ Melendez Fr. 6-7 3.1 Arecibo, Puerto Rico

No. 11 Wisconsin (17-3, 8-2 Big Ten)


P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Chucky Hepburn Fr. 6-2 7.3 Omaha, Neb.

G Brad Davison Sr. 6-5 15.7 Maple Grove, Minn.

G/F Johnny Davis So. 6-5 21.4 La Crosse, Wis.

F Tyler Wahl Jr. 6-9 10.8 Lakeville, Minn.

F Steven Crowl So. 7-0 9.1 Eagan, Minn.

FYI: Davis ranks eighth nationally — just one spot ahead of Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn — in scoring at 21.4 points per game. The Badgers’ sophomore standout has scored at least 20 points in 11 games this season and hit the 30-point mark twice with 30 points in Wisconsin’s Maui Invitational win against Houston on Nov. 23 and a career high 37 points in the team’s road win at Purdue on Jan. 3.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

F Ben Carlson So. 6-9 1.9 Woodbury, Minn.

G Lorne Bowman II Fr. 6-2 3.2 Detroit

C Chris Vogt Sr. 7-0 2.6 Mayfield, Ky.


Site: State Farm Center (15,544); Champaign.

Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Deon Thomas (analysis) will have the call on the Illini Sports Network on WDWS 1400-AM, WDWS 93.9-FM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WDAN-1490-AM, WDNL 102.1-FM and WPXN 104.9-FM.

TV: Brandin Gaudin (play-by-play), Robbie Hummel (analysis) and Andy Katz (sideline reports) have the call on BTN.

Series: Illinois leads 113-89.

Last meeting: Illinois won 74-69 on Feb. 27, 2021, in Madison, Wis.

FYI: Illinois has actually won its last three games against Wisconsin, dating back to a 71-70 victory on Jan. 8, 2020, in Madison. That win, which came courtesy a late flurry of points from Ayo Dosunmu, snapped a 15-game losing streak for the Illini against the Badgers that dated back to the 2010-11 season. While Illinois holds the overall series lead, that stretch of wins formeant the balance of power in the rivalry tipped northward with the Badgers going27-15 against the Illini this century.

Beat writer Scott Richey’s storylines

Illini should have Curbelo back in lineup

Illinois sophomore point guard Andre Curbelo has cleared the university health and safety protocols and should be available for Wednesday’s top-25 matchup with Wisconsin. Curbelo missed both games last week against Michigan State and Northwestern while in the protocol and returned to practice Monday. He also participated in Tuesday’s final practice before the Illini face the Badgers. “He’s back and working out,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “He is back into the mix. What that means yet, I don’t know. We’ll see — since he’s had such a lengthy time off — how that looks. Excited to have him back participating. If everything goes accordingly, I would assume he was going to be available. He’s been out for a little bit, so we’ve got to be diligent.” Curbelo is averaging 10.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists, while shooting 34.4 percent overall and 13.3 percent from three-point range, this seasonin just six games.

Keeping track of Frazier’s minutes

Trent Frazier played all 40 minutes of Illinois’ 59-56 win at Northwestern on Saturday. It was the second time in January the senior guard was on the floor for the entirety of a game, and the only break he got in the first month of the year was 28 minutes in the Illini’s blowout road win at Minnesota on Jan. 4.Including a 48-minute run in Illinois’ double overtime loss to Purdue on Jan. 17, Frazier has been on the court for an average of 38.7 minutes during the Illini’s last seven games. Underwood admitted there was some concern for diminishing returns given Frazier’s January workload, but the veteran guard’s defensive effort hasn’t waned. “It’s too many minutes,” Underwood said. “Too many minutes. Now, if anyone can do it, it’s him because he’s in elite shape, and he’s that guy. I don’t want to ever have to play guys like that. I want guys to be able to maximize. … It’s not fair to him, but, again, he’s that valuable to us. With (Alfonso Plummer) in foul trouble (against Northwestern), we needed him on the court a good deal of time.I try to always think about timeouts and opponents’ timeouts how those can help him with media timeouts, but I’ve got to do a better job of getting him out some.

Elite matchup on tap Wednesday night

Two of the leading contenders for both Big Ten Player of the Year and the various national player of the year awards are set to square off Wednesday at State Farm Center. Illinois junior center Kofi Cockburn is one of two players nationally averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, but the Illini 7-footer is the only player in the country in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding. Johnny Davis is in the midst of a breakout sophomore season for Wisconsin and has elevated his production by roughly 14 points, four rebounds and one assist per game compared to his freshman season levels. “It’s obviously interesting because he’s a really great player and has done great things coming back for his sophomore year,” Cockburn said of Wednesday’s matchup. “This game means a lot to me because I’m going up against another candidate for player of the year. All these games are opportunities for me to go out there and show what I’m capable of doing.”

The News-Gazette’s Pick

No. 18 Illinois 64, No. 11 Wisconsin 61

The way Illinois’ previous two games shook out, coupled with what’s usually Wisconsin’s preference for style, might yield another grind of a Big Ten showdown on Wednesday night at State Farm Center. What could put the Illini over the top in the top-25 matchup, though, is the fact they should be at full strength. That’s been a distinct rarity for Illinois this season, but a healthy Kofi Cockburn and healthy Andre Curbelo is a boon for Brad Underwood and Co. (N-G prediction record — 14-6)

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