Following a narrow escape against Auburn to wrap up non-conference play, the Illinois Fighting Illini will kick off their Big Ten schedule on Wednesday night against the Purdue Boilermakers in West Lafayette.
Led by the improved play of senior guard Brandon Paul, the Illini bring an impressive 13-1 overall record in head coach John Groce's first year on the job. They look to be one of a handful of early frontrunners in a crowded conference race. Paul, who leads the team with 18.7 points per game, finished 0-for-5 from three-point range against Auburn to snap a streak of 11-consecutive games with a three-pointer.
Despite entering with a two-game winning streak of their own, the Boilermakers have been marred by inconsistency so far in 2012-13. Purdue's lone power conference victory came against Clemson back in late November, and head coach Matt Painter's team will need to get things ironed out quickly with a brutal early schedule to begin the conference season.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 2
Where: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, IN
Game time: 7:30 p.m. CT
TV channel: Big Ten Network
Spread: Illinois -3