Illini Basketball Preview - B1G Tourney - Illini vs Indiana

Connor Cagley, IlliniGuys Basketball Writer

March 11, 2022


#1 Seed ILLINOIS (22-8, 15-5) at the Big Ten Tournament
Tournament Central Big Ten Tournament
Quarterfinals vs. Indiana
Date | Time Friday, March 11, 2022 | 10:30 a.m. CT (11:30 a.m. ET)
Location Indianapolis, Ind. | Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Tickets Ticketmaster
Television BTN (Kevin Kugler, Stephen Bardo & Rick Pizzo)
Live Stream | FOX Sports App
Radio  Busey Bank Illini Sports Network | Listen | Varsity Network App | Sirius 84, XM 84, SXM App 84


Record: Indiana leads 93-91
Streak: Illinois W-4
Last Meeting: #18 Illinois 74, Indiana 57 (2/5/2022 at Bloomington)
Record in Big Ten Tournament: Illinois leads 6-2
Streak in Big Ten Tournament: Illinois W-1
Last Meeting in Big Ten Tournament: Illinois 64, Indiana 54 (3/3/2014 at Indianapolis)
Underwood vs. Indiana: 5-3

Illinois will be facing off against the Hoosiers after they had an improbable second half comeback against Michigan. The Hoosiers aren’t "formally" in the NCAA tournament, so a victory against Illinois would likely guarantee them in the field of 68. Illinois, on the other hand, is locked in to at least a four seed and with a victory on Friday, they could be placed as a three seed or even higher, depending on how far they advance throughout the conference tournament.

In their regular season matchup in Bloomington, Indiana, the Illini were able to come away with a 74-57 victory.

Two Questions

Question #1 - Can Kofi Cockburn continue to dominate Trayce Jackson-Davis in the battle of the bigs?

Trayce Jackson-Davis courtesy W. Elijah Smith, IlliniGuys

Since Kofi Cockburn and Trayce Jackson-Davis entered college three years ago, Indiana has yet to get a victory over the Fighting Illini. This is mostly due to the fact that, like Cockburn, Jackson-Davis relies a lot on physically bullying his opponents. Unfortunately for him, Cockburn isn’t very vulnerable to this style of play.

With a 7’0” tall, 285-pound frame, Cockburn just isn’t easy to move or beat consistently around the rim. Jackson-Davis, at 6’9”, has yet to add a consistent jumper outside of 8-10 feet.  This makes it easier for Cockburn to guard Jackson-Davis – he can leave Jackson-Davis space which creates an opportunity for Cockburn to cut off driving lanes and contest everything around the rim.

On the other end of the court, Cockburn is able to use his extra weight to force Jackson-Davis under the rim. This forces Jackson-Davis to play overly aggressive, and can often get him into foul trouble as he likes to swing for the fences and go for the highlight reel block.

Whoever wins this battle at the center position will likely come away with a victory. Look for each team to place a lot of emphasis on how to get these players looks.

Question #2 - Can Illinois slow down Xavier Johnson?

Xavier Johnson courtesy W. Elijah Smith, IlliniGuys

Over Indiana’s last five games, point guard Xavier Johnson has averaged 19.6 points, 6.5 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game – all while shooting 87% from the free throw line and 45% from the three. He’s been instrumental in Indiana’s push for the tournament and slowing him down will be key if Illinois is to come away with a victory.

Trent Frazier, who once again looks to be an all-defensive player in the conference, will most likely draw the assignment. This will be an early post-season test for Frazier, as Johnson at 6’3” has a size advantage that could give Frazier issues – especially now that Johnson has found his rhythm from deep. Frazier had arguably one of his best games of the season at Indiana and he’s hoping to replicate that type of performance tomorrow in the Big 10 tournament.

When Frazier isn’t on the floor, Illinois will likely try to slide Da’Monte Williams or Andre Curbelo over to guard Johnson. Each will provide something different.  Williams will add strength, while Curbelo will use quickness to try to speed up Johnson and push him out of his comfort zone.

Prediction: Illinois 70 – Indiana 64

After an emotional come from behind victory against Michigan, Indiana will likely be running on fumes. Illinois, on the other hand, will come to the game rested and ready to secure a four seed – and possibly even a three seed – for the NCAA tournament. Indiana will try to slow this down and limit possessions, but Illinois’ offensive firepower will likely be too much for them in this conference tournament matchup.


  • Illinois is the defending Big Ten Tournament champion, winning the 2021 title at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.
  • Illinois is a No. 1 seed for the fourth time in BTT history, and the first time in 17 years: 2001, 2004, 2005, 2022.
  • Illinois is 6-2 all-time as the No. 1 seed, winning the BTT championship in 2005, finishing runner-up in 2004, and advancing to the semifinal in 2001.
  • Illinois has a double-bye to the quarterfinal round for the third year in a row, the only Big Ten team to earn a double-bye in each of the last three seasons.
  • Illinois has the third-most all-time BTT wins with 31:
    1. Ohio State, 34
    2. Michigan State, 32
    3. ILLINOIS, 31
  • Illinois has won three BTT championships (2003, 2005, 2021), tied for third-most in the league:
    1. Michigan State, 6
    2. Ohio State, 5
    T3. ILLINOIS, Michigan & Wisconsin, 3
  • Illinois is tied for the second-most BTT championship game appearances, advancing to the title game seven times:
    1. Ohio State, 10
    T2. ILLINOIS, Michigan State & Wisconsin, 7
  • Illinois has advanced to the BTT semifinals 13 times, the second-most semifinal appearances:
    1. Michigan State, 15
    2. ILLINOIS, 13
    T3. Ohio State & Wisconsin, 12
  • Illinois has made the BTT quarterfinals in all but five years, with those 19 appearances the fourth-most of any school.
    T1. Michigan State & Wisconsin, 23
    3. Ohio State, 20
    T4. ILLINOIS & Michigan, 19
  • Illinois is 14-10 all-time in BTT games played in Indianapolis, winning the championship last year and making title game appearances in 2004 and 2008.
  • Illinois is 21-6 in BTT games when it is the higher seed.
  • Illinois owns a 17-6 record when playing its opening game of the BTT.
  • Illinois is 13-5 in the BTT quarterfinals, with its .722 win percentage the best of any team in the quarterfinal round.
  • Illinois is 6-2 in the BTT vs. Indiana.




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