I wasn't going to do a preview because with all the running around for christmas and what not I just didn't have time. Unfortunately, however, there has been a ton of whining so I suppose I should put something up: I really don't think the Gophers can hang with Illinois.
The Gophers have that sparkling 12-1 record, but they've got there mainly by playing poorly, falling behind, and then relying on their superior talent and athleticism to come back and win - sometimes by a lot. The problem with this strategy is that Illinois is both more talented and more athletic than the Gophers. Thus the only way the Gophers can beat Illinois (at Illinois, especially) is by executing on both ends of the floor with near flawless precision. Unfortunately, there was only one game this year (Va Tech) where this team even approached that level of excellence, and I'm not so sure I see it happening again against Illinois, one of the best defensive teams in the land (#22 in defensive efficiency).
To make matters slightly worse, Illinois's only defensive weakness is defending the 3-pointer where they are merely average, but as we know the Gophers can't really exploit this because they can't shoot it and don't really even look to shoot it. On the bright side, Illinois isn't much of a three-point threat, but they love to drive to the rim - something the Gophers couldn't stop against the nerds on NDSU so I have no idea how they're going to stop Illinois. Even if they can somehow keep Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson out of the lane (doubtful), they have no answer for Meyers Leonard in the paint unless Ralph suddenly mans up.
NOT BLOODY LIKELY.
Illinois 70, Minnesota 54