Last season, the Illinois Fighting Illini started 10-0 but lost 12 of its final 14 games to miss the NCAA tournament. This time around, they're 9-0, but the No. 13 Illini face a tough test in No. 10 Gonzaga, who is also 9-0 on the season.
On Saturday, the two teams will meet at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash., and one of them will no longer be unbeaten before the night is over. This is Illinois' first game against a ranked opponent, though they do already have a number of quality wins (Butler, Georgia Tech).
To make matters worse for Illinois, Gonzaga has won 17-straight games at the McCarthey Center. Illinois is coming off a poor outing in which they shot just 40.0 percent against Western Carolina. The big matchup here will be on the boards, as Gonzaga ranks among the top in the nation with 41.1 rebounds per game, while the Illini pull down just 36.2 in comparison.
When: 10:00 p.m. ET, Dec. 8, 2012
Where: McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, WA
TV: ESPN 2