The Iowa Hawkeyes face their toughest test of the season when they visit top-ranked Illinois in Thursday night. The Hawkeyes are 23rd ranked after Saturdays win against Minnesota and now play a team that coach Steve Alford says is the nation’s best. He says they have done everything right and if you look at their schedule, the opponents they’ve beaten are “phenomenal.” Alford says they’re a very good team playing at a very high level and his team will have to do everything right to have a chance to win. Alford says Champaign’s Assembly Hall has become the most difficult venue for visiting teams in the Big Ten Conference. He says over the last couple of years it’s as difficult as it gets because of the students sitting around the floor and everyone dressed in orange. Alford says it’s “a pretty exciting environment.” Illinois is 18-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten. Alford says the Illini have been on a roll since a slow start in the Big Ten race a year ago. He says they won their last eight or nine in a row and now have those guys back and they’ve settled into a nice eight or nine man rotation. Alford says to have a chance the Hawkeyes need to limit easy baskets for the Illini. He says they have to control the transition or it will be a long night. He says you do that by taking care of the ball. Iowa is 1-2 in the Big Ten and 13-3 overall.
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