The Illini return to Champaign to take on the newly-minted Division I Lindenwood squad
After a split in Vegas against two Top 25 teams, the Illini will return home to face a Lindenwood team playing in their first year of D1 hoops. They are in the Ohio Valley Conference, this will be the first time they play Illinois as a D1 program. They played during the 2019-20 season and the Illini took care of business with a 117-65 victory. Former Illini star and current Chicago Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu had 24 points in that game. This game shouldn’t be much different than a couple of seasons ago, the Illini remain strong, while Lindenwood gets their feet wet as a D1 program.
Projected Starting Lineups
- G Kevin Caldwell (5-foot-11) (20 points vs. Idaho State)
- G Chris Childs (6-foot-2) (23 points, 10 rebounds vs. Idaho State)
- G Brandon Trimble (6-foot-2) (13 points in last four games, 32 in first three games of the season)
- G David Ware (6-foot-5) (11-for-18 from the field this season)
- F Cam Burrell (6-foot-7) (19 points, 8-for-9 from the field vs. Idaho State)
The Illini have a huge size advantage with this Lindenwood roster. They don’t have any players above 6-foot-7 that play consistent minutes. While Lindenwood is experienced, they don’t have the proper Division I experience that is needed to hang around with power conference teams. There is also an obvious talent gap between the two rosters.
- G Skyy Clark
- G RJ Melendez
- G Terrence Shannon Jr.
- F Matthew Mayer
- F Coleman Hawkins
Brad Underwood is expected to roll out the same lineup that he has in the first five games. Once again, the million-dollar question is how he handles the rotation. Ty Rodgers is coming off of a season-low in minutes, while RJ Melendez played his most of the season against Virginia. The Illini will likely have Dain Dainja out there for 20-plus minutes as he aims for another double-double against lesser opponents.
The Analytics Between the Two Teams
- Adjusted Offensive Efficiency – ILL 36th, Lindenwood 332nd
- Adjusted Defensive Efficiency – ILL 20th, Lindenwood 340th
- Adjusted Tempo – ILL 12th, Lindenwood 126th
- All-Play Percentage – ILL 20th, Lindenwood 325th
- Offensive Efficiency – ILL 33rd, Lindenwood 324th
- Defensive Efficiency – ILL 12th, Lindenwood 311th
The Illini have a distinct advantage when it comes to the metrics. It’s not a surprise by any means, but I’m surprised to see the tempo stat for Lindenwood. I think the Illini will try to run the floor tonight, which is something they couldn’t do as much in Vegas against the likes of UCLA and Virginia.
Players to Watch & Prediction
- Players to Watch
- Lindenwood – Cam Burrell
- He’s going to be tasked with trying to cover Coleman Hawkins, Matthew Mayer, and maybe even Dain Dainja in this game. He’s starting at the five for them, despite his 6-foot-7 frame. He needs to hold his own for Lindenwood to have any chance to hang around in this game.
- Illinois – Terrence Shannon Jr.
- After an unbelievable performance against UCLA with 29 points and 8-for-9 shooting from deep, Shannon struggled with 6 turnovers in the next game against Virginia. In their last home game, Shannon had 30 points against Monmouth. I’m expecting something similar to that in tonight’s game.
- Lindenwood – Cam Burrell
- Illinois wins 108-48
This game could get ugly fast, Lindenwood doesn’t have the personnel to keep up with this Illini squad. In their only two games against top-100 KenPom teams, they lost to Dayton by 27 and Missouri by 29. Illinois should simply have no issue against this team, I’m just being honest.
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