Illinois State Redbirds
Missouri Valley Conference (24-9, 13-5)
Big Wins: 12/29 at Creighton (80-67), 2/27 Creighton (68-54), 3/1 at Southern Illinois (57-49)
Bad Losses: 12/4 at Eastern Michigan (63-72), 1/30 at Northern Iowa (61-69), at Indiana State (72-76)
Coach: Tim Jankovich
Boo Richardson, Senior, Guard, 6.9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 1.5 spg
Dom Johnson, Senior, Guard, 8.6 ppg, 3.2 apg
Osiris Eldridge, Sophomore, Guard, 16.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.4 spg
Anthony Slack, Senior, Forward, 9.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.4 bpg
Dinma Odiakosa, Sophomore, Forward, 6.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg
Emmanuel Holloway, Junior, Guard, 5.4 ppg, 1.5 apg
Brandon Sampay, Junior, Center, 4.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Levi Dyer, Senior, Center, 6.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
New head coach Tim Jankovich has quickly built a balanced offensive system. Illinois State does not depend on the three-ball, but they can certainly hit it when they need it. The frontcourt can carry the team offensively one day and the backcourt the next day. Usually it is a gimmicky offense that the opposition has trouble game planning for, but it can also be really tough to prepare for a team that is as balanced as Illinois State.
Guard Osiris Eldridge and forward Anthony Slack will do a large chunk of the scoring, but the Redbirds have a couple ball handlers on the perimeter who can put up some points. Dom Johnson, who missed the end of the season due to a tonsillectomy, is a capable long range shooter and will occasionally use his speed to get to the basket. Boo Richardson has done a solid job keeping the turnover numbers down and his senior leadership will go a long way in March.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Slack is a good scorer and a great rebounder, but his inability to hit a free-throw will keep him on the bench at the end of a game. Slack and fellow forward Dinma Odiakosa certainly bring the free-throw percentage down, but the team as a whole only shoots about 64 percent. Foul trouble will also send Slack and Odiakosa to the bench, but luckily Illinois State has an answer. Levi Dyer and Brandon Sampay are both capable big men who can actually hit free throws. Dyer is 6-11 and will spend a majority of his time hanging around the perimeter when the Redbirds have the ball. He will not replace the rebounding of Slack or Odiakosa, but he can stretch out the defense and at least provide another big body.
Who To Watch:
Eldridge is the Redbirds leading scorer, averaging over 16 points per game. He is a solid three-point shooter and quick enough and strong enough to finish above the rim. The 6-3 sophomore has been pretty inconsistent this year, but he can explode for over 30 points and will take control when necessary.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.0 (226th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.5 (11, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.9 (82, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.3 (32, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.4 (100, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.9 (58, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 63.8 (302, 10)
Rebound Margin: 0.8 (150, 7)
Assists Per Game: 14.8 (82, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.8 (57, 4)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to Utah State
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