Xavier Gunning for the Illini
Today, Illinois takes on the Muketeers of Xavier. A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference
, Xavier has played three games
this year and won them by an average of 30 points, including a 19 point win
over Purdue in the Wooden Tradition
Xavier returns all five starters and the top two reserves from a team that went 17-12 (10-6) last season and finished tied for second in their conference. That will be an advantage for Xavier
over the Illini writes Dustin Dow in the Cincinnati Enquirer
They will be led by senior forward Brian Thornton
, who comes into the game averaging 20 points on 84 percent shooting along with 7.3 rebounds per game. Dedrick Finn has returned to the team after (I'm not kidding) being suspended for stealing his ex-girlfriend's dog
, the game with Illinois stands out as their biggest matchup of the season. A10 opponent George Washington is the only other team ranked in the top 25 on their schedule. So it's not surprising that Xavier has been looking ahead to the game. Following the last win over Copin State, Xavier sophomore guard Stanley Burrell said:
"All we've been talking about is playing Illinois. Not to say we were looking over Coppin State; Coach did a great job of letting us know we need to stay focused. ... But all week leading up to it, we've just been thinking about playing Illinois - playing Illinois and putting on a good show."
Xavier has a lot to play for, as Dow shows in another article
. "Xavier could very well find itself on the NCAA Tournament bubble in March," CollegeRPI.com's Jerry Palm said. "A win against a team like Illinois is one of those things that can put you over."
Illinois will be looking to keep their perfect record intact
following a much-publicized road victory over the North Carolina Tarheels. They will also be looking to record their 15th straight win in the United Center and improve on their 27-6 all-time record in the arena. "We always do well there
," forward James Augustine said. The Chicago Tribune welcomes the Illini to town with the following headline: Sweet 2nd home in Chicagoland
The oddsmakers have the Illini 5-5.5 point favorites. For those of you who don't get the game on TV, you can listen to the Musketeer's broadcast here and get the GameTracker here. For the Illinois game notes, click here.