Iowa Women's Basketball Tip Time Preview: Illinois

On3 imageby:Kyle Huesmann02/25/24

HuesmannKyle

ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (13-12) (7-8) AT #4 IOWA HAWKEYES (23-4) (12-3)

TIME: 12:00pm CT

TV: FS1 – Sloane Martin and Kim Adams

SERIES: 81st Meeting – Iowa leads the series 60-20 – Illinois snapped a 7-game losing streak last season

THE NUMBERS

OFFENSE: IOWA: 91.8 PPG, 50.1% FG, 36.9% 3PT, 13.7 TO ILLINOIS: 74.6 PPG, 45.6% FG, 31.8% 3PT, 11.8 TO

DEFENSE: IOWA: 71.3 PPG, 40.2% FG, 29.9% 3PT, 14.9 TO, +7.4 REB MARGIN ILLINOIS: 66.0 PPG, 41.5% FG, 29.0% 3PT, 14.9 TO, +2.6 REB MARGIN

IOWA HAWKEYES PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

Caitlin ClarkPoint Guard6-0/ Sr.Averaging team-high 32.4 PPG, 7.0 REB and 8.5 AST. Leads the country in points (876), assists (229) and three-pointers (143). 24 pts, 10 reb, 9 ast vs Indiana.
Gabbie MarshallGuard5-9/ 5th Sr.Averaging 5.2 PPG and second on the team in made three-pointers (38). 4+ threes in six games. Shooting just 23.8% 3PT over the last five games.
Kate MartinGuard6-0/ Grad Sr.Averaging 13.4 PPG, 6.3 REB and 2.5 AST. Third on the team in made field goals (131). Scored in double figures in 20 of 27 games. 19 pts, 5 reb vs Indiana.
Molly DavisGuard5-7/ 5th Sr.Averaging 5.8 PPG and 3.0 AST. Recorded 3+ assists in 16 games. Scored in double figures in six games.
Hannah StuelkeForward6-2/ Soph.Averaging 14.2 PPG and 6.9 REB. Second on the team in made field goals (133). Scored in double figures in 17 games. 10 pts, 6 reb vs Indiana.

ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP

Makira CookGuard5-6/ Sr.Averaging a team-high 14.8 PPG and 4.0 AST. Second on the team in made three-pointers (26). Scored in double figures in 18 games. 22 pts, 4 ast vs Indiana.
Genesis BryantGuard5-6/ Sr.Averaging 14.1 PPG, 3.0 REB and 3.4 AST. Second on the team in made field goals (119). Leads the team in made threes (50). 15 pts, 4 reb vs Indiana.
Adalia McKenzieGuard5-10/ Jr.Averaging 10.9 PPG and 4.9 REB. Fourth player on the team with 100+ made field goals (107). Has scored 93 pts (15.5) over the last six games. 14 pts, 4 reb vs Indiana.
Kendall BosticForward6-2/ Sr.Averaging 12.1 PPG and 10.0 REB. Leads the team in made field goals (128) and FG% (61.8%). Recorded nine double-doubles. 12 pts, 11 reb vs Indiana.
Camille HobbyCenter6-3/ 5th Sr.NC State transfer. Averaging 9.4 PPG and 4.7 REB. Scored in double figures in 11 games. Started the last 12 games. 12 pts, reb vs Indiana.

ILLINOIS PLAYERS TO WATCH: G Makira Cook and F Kendall Bostic

The top player maker for Illinois, Makira Cook is averaging a team-high 14.8 points per game and has scored in double figures in 18 of her 22 games played. Over the last eight games, Cook is averaging 16.6 points per game, including a season-high 22 points last time out against Indiana. She is averaging a team-high 13.8 shot attempts per game and while her three-pointer percentage is down this year (29.9%), Cook made 3+ threes in 8 games last season.

With the recent struggles in the rebounding department, Kendall Bostic could be a tough matchup for the Hawkeyes. Not only has Bostic scored in double figures in 19 games, she has pulled down 10+ rebounds in 12 games. She is averaging 12.6 rebounds per 40 minutes, including nine games with 3+ offensive rebounds. Bostic is averaging 37.2 minutes per game over the last nine games, so she will not leave the floor very much.

IOWA PLAYER TO WATCH: G Molly Davis

The last four games have been pretty quiet for Molly Davis. She played a combined five minutes against Penn State and Nebraska due to an illness, but since her return, she has felt a little invisible on the court. Davis knocked down a pair of threes in the win over Michigan, but against Indiana she was just 1/5 from the floor. Maybe it’s lingering effects of the illness she had? Over a stretch of six games in January, Davis had 59 pts (9.8 ppg) and 3+ assists in four of those games, including a season-high eight against Ohio State. The Hawkeyes need Molly Davis to get back to being the player that can create her own shot, find open players and play with a bit of swag.

KEY MATCHUP: Three-Point Shooting

Offensively, Illinois is not a team that is going to light it up from three-point range and run you out of the gym that way. They rank 13th in the Big Ten and tied for 226th in the country in made three-pointers per game (5.3). Genesis Bryant and Makira Cook do the most damage, combining for 76 of the teams 132 made threes. Defensively, the Illini are ranked 69th in the country in three-point percentage allowed (29.0%). Over their last four wins, that number is even lower at 26.7%. Iowa ranks first in the Big Ten in made threes (284) and threes per game (10.4), so the further the gap is between made threes, the better the situation for the Hawkeyes.

THE BREAKDOWN

The Fighting Illini come into this contest with a 13-12 overall record, including a 7-8 mark in Big Ten play. The season has been a bit of a disapointment, with a subpar 6-12 record against Q1-3 teams. Illinois has picked up quality wins over Penn State and Michigan, as well as an impressive 86-66 win over #14 Indiana last time out.

An area in this game that could be interesting to watch is the turnover battle. Both teams ranked inside the top 50 in the country in fewest turnovers per game, while Illinois ranks 7th overall. Defensively, the Hawkeyes and Illini rank 237th and 239th respectively in turnovers forced per game. On paper, it appears that there won’t be a ton of miscues, so how the turnover battle plays out could be a big key in this game.

Looking at the rest of the starting lineup, Genesis Bryant is name that you may remember from last season, when the Hawkeyes lost in Champaign. Bryant scored a season-high 24 points, shot 8/10 from the floor and knocked down three three-pointers. This season, she is second on the team in scoring and has made a team-high 50 three-pointers. Bryant has scored in double figures in 12 of her last 16 games, including in each of her last three games. That comes after she scored under ten points in three straight games.

Junior guard Adalia McKenzie is the fourth player on the roster averaging in double figures. She has hit a good stretch of play over the last six games, putting up 15.5 points per game and shooting 62.5% from three-point range. McKenzie is also second on the team in total rebounds (122) and first on the team in offensive rebounds (59). Her most notable performance was a 15 point, 17 rebound night against Purdue back on February 5th.

Rounding out the starting lineup is fifth-year senior center Camille Hobby. A transfer from NC State, Hobby has started each of the last 12 games. She is shooting 54.9% from two-point range and has scored in double figures in 11 games. Hobby averages just 20.7 minutes per game, but is pulling down 9.1 rebounds per 40 minutes. She has put up 37 points and 21 rebounds over the last three games.

Since Jada Peebles was injured and lost for the season, head coach Shauna Green has really cut down the minutes she gives to her bench. In their win over Indiana on Monday, the Illini played just seven total players over the last two games. Freshman 5’11 guard Gretchen Dolan has played 20+ minutes in nine of the last ten games off the bench, Over that stretch, she is averaging 7.6 points, including back-to-back games in double figures. She put up 11 points, four rebounds and four assists in a recent win over Penn State.

Other names to know are 6’3 junior forward Brynn Shoup-Hill and 6’3 sophomore forward Shay Bollin. Neither has played double digit minutes in the last seven games. Shoup-Hill had a season-hight 14 points and six rebounds against Nebraska back on January 11th.

A deeper look at the stats behind the matchup between the Hawkeyes and Illini…

THE PICK

This is a really important game for the Iowa Hawkeyes. They have fallen to the two seed line in the latest ESPN NCAA Tournament projection, so this game needs to be considered a must win if they want to stay in consideration for a one seed. As for Illinois, they have won five of their last seven games, earning three Quad 1 wins in the process. They are getting closer to playing at the level that everyone expected coming into the year.

Warren Nolan projects Iowa to win 87-62, but that would be a bit of a surprise given the way that Illinois has played as of late. Coming off of their second-worst offensive performance of the year (0.863 pts per possession) against Indiana, I do think the Hawkeyes come out with a clear focus on putting together a good offensive game. That will lead to an important win on Sunday afternoon. IOWA 84 ILLINOIS 71

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