Indiana to face off against Illinois in Big 10 Tournament Friday

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The Hoosiers will play Illinois in their first game in the Big 10 Tournament, following the Illini’s win against the Minnesota Gophers Thursday.

The Fighting Illini beat the Gophers 51-49 at the buzzer with a jumper shot from Brandon Paul during the first day of the tournament in Chicago.

Illinois’ advancement will have them facing off with the Indiana Hoosiers, who they beat in the regular season.

“We know Illinois will be a tremendous challenge tomorrow at the United Center,” said IU head coach Tom Crean. “They play with great intensity, passion and execution.  Playing the Illini in Chicago should excite the Hoosier Nation. We are going to need our fans to bring their colors, their energy and their voices.

“We will be facing an excellent coach in John Groce with an excellent staff. There ball movement and spacing are very good.  The pressure defense of the Illini is tough to prepare for. They really get into you and play with quickness.  Illinois is very athletic. What they do is they take the lane away from you very well.  I have a lot of respect for their defense.”

IU (26-5) secured the title of Big Ten Champions for the regular season, making them the No. 1 seed in the tournament.  Now, they hope to win the tournament title for the first time in the program’s history.

“When you’re going against great talent, which this tournament is full of, you’ve got to stay engaged for 40 minutes,” said Coach Crean. “We have had a good week of practice and like I said last week, everything is a one-game season from here on out.  That’s how we are preparing.”

The game will be at noon ET Friday.