Busting Brackets

Illinois Basketball: 3 keys for Illinois victory versus Iowa State in the Sweet 16

Illinois’ offense will be tested against a stubborn Cyclone defense for a spot in the Elite Eight.
Duquesne v Illinois
Duquesne v Illinois / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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#3: Serviceable defense

The Cyclones may not score at the high clip that Illinois does, yet they are still efficient in their offensive possessions, sporting the 49th-best offensive efficiency in the country, according to BartTorvik.

Led by Keshon Gilbert (13.7 Pts, 4.4 Reb, 4.3 Ast) and Tamin Lipsey (12.5 Pts, 4.6 Reb, 4.9 Ast) alongside freshman Milan Momcilovic (11.2 Pts, 3.2 Reb, 1.2 Ast) and senior Curtis Jones (10.6 Pts, 2.9 Reb, 2.0 Ast), the Cyclones are by no means a pushover offensively despite their defensive-minded approach. This type of “balance” that head coach TJ Otzelberger has assembled has paid dividends to the success the Cyclones have enjoyed so far this season.

For Illinois, expecting the Illini to have a full-throttle, 40-minutes-of-hell-like defensive effort is not a realistic expectation considering that their defense has been their Achilles heel for the entirety of the season. 

Next. 10 Sweet 16 teams could win their first National Championship. 10 Sweet 16 teams could win their first National Championship. dark

Simply put, Illinois must hold serve defensively to do what they do best — run in transition and score efficiently and effectively.