The last 10 days have been somewhat of a Charles Dickens story for the Hoosiers.
It has been the best of times—when Indiana upset Michigan 71-65 in their first Big Ten game of the season.
But it has also been the worst of times—with the crushing 79-54 loss to Ohio State.
The win over the Wolverines gave hope to Hoosier nation that maybe the team was out of the Big Ten basement and would have a good year, but the demolition job by Ohio State sent the Cream and Crimson's hopes back down to earth.
With the team still recovering from the loss of leading scorer—freshman guard Maurice Creek—the Hoosiers couldn't do much on the offensive end against the Buckeyes, and were played out of the stadium.
But now there is a big opportunity for Crean's kids.
Indiana returns to Assembly Hall, where there should be a loud and vocal student section to go along with the loyal fans that have been there for the team through thick and thin.
We have seen that the team really feeds off the crowd, and that the emotion level always increases at home.
A positive that we have seen from the Hoosiers in the last few games has been the play of sophomore guard Verdell Jones III.
In the win over Michigan, Verdell led all scorers with 20 points, along with eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals—and against Ohio State he again lead all scorers with 22 points, as well as collecting three rebounds, an assist, and two steals.
While Jones III is becoming the Hoosiers go to guy on the court, Illinois brings along a massive front court, along with a talented back court.
The two Mikes—junior forward Mike Davis and junior center Mike Tisdale—patrol the lane, and will be around the rim all day on both offense and defense. Tisdale also brings a size matchup for Indiana with his 7'1'' frame.
And in the back court, junior guard Demitri McCamey leads the Illini on the court, and leads the team in scoring with 13.8 points per game, as well as assists with 5.7 per game.
Along with McCamey, the Hoosiers have to watch out for freshman guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, who are both averaging more than 10 points per game...and they spend more than 22 minutes on the court per game.
For the Hoosiers, Indiana will need to find a way to spread the floor and force the Illini big men to guard outside and the Illini guards to guard inside.
Indiana also should look to get the Illini into foul trouble early into the game.
Illinois has had trouble this year with their bench scoring, showing to the nation that their lack of depth is a huge weakness.
Indiana has a massive chance to bring momentum back into their hands, and tonight should be a great game for the players, and for the fans.