NCAA Men’s Basketball: Illinois Fighting Illini vs Rutgers Scarlet Knights- Possible Lineups and Predictions

Published 12/20/2020, 7:00 AM EST
Dec 15, 2020; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini center Kofi Cockburn (21) dunks against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the second half at the State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports


NCAA Men’s Basketball has enjoyed a mixed return to play, after COVID-19 ended the last season without a tournament to crown champions. While this season has seen its fair share of cancelations and postponements, we are seeing a genuine basketball season shape up in front of us.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The Illinois Fighting Illini will be facing off against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in what will be one of the closest fought games all season. It is hard to pick one over the other, but there are indicators that can help make a decision like that.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The Illini are 5-2, losing in a major upset at the hands of Missouri last week. Their other loss came to #2 ranked Baylor Bears. Rutgers are still undefeated but are entering a dangerous run of fixtures. Four out of their next five opponents are currently ranked in the AP Poll.

But which one of these teams will come out on top for this battle?

NCAA Men’s Basketball: Will Rutgers stay undefeated?

The rankings would have you believe Illinois is favored to win this. However, that isn’t the case. KenPom actually has Rutgers coming away with a one-point win, which shows how closely these teams are matched up. They play gritty defense, are good rebounders, and can make any team pay in the transition.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Dec 8, 2020; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Jacob Young (42) reacts against the Syracuse Orange during the second half at Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC). Mandatory Credit: Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

Outside the loss to Missouri, Illinois has looked dangerous all season. The team has a fantastic core of players that were there for their run last season. They have only matured more and hopefully, can string together more consistent wins. While Rutgers is undefeated, it has come against weaker opposition than the kind Illinois has faced. However, this team has more maturity than the already steady Illinois team.

The Illini will take the floor with their steady core of Kofi Cockburn, Trent Frazier, Ayo Dosunmu, Da’Monte Williams, and Adam Miller. Rutgers will line up with Ron Harper Jr., Jacob Young, Clifford Omoruyi, Montez Mathis and, Paul Mulcahy.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

For our prediction, we will go against KenPom and pick Illinois to win this game. This is a close game that could go either way, but the individual talent of Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu may be enough to push them over the top.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT