Per reports from Jon Rothstein and others on Twitter, Duke is set to host Illinois for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The date has not yet been announced, but this is an intriguing matchup for the Blue Devils.
Illinois finished last season 21-10, which landed them at 4th in the Big Ten. Illinois has been slated to finish near the top of the Big Ten, if not the presumed favorite all-around. They are returning their star Ayo Dosunmo, who landed on the first-team All-Big Ten last season.
Ayo averaged 16.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.3 APG last season for Illinois. The Fighting Illini are also returning star freshman Kofi Cockburn who put 13.3 PPG and 8.8 RPG last season. These two are the dynamic duo that many think will run the Big Ten this season.
Coming in for his freshman season is a former five-star prospect, Adam Miller. Miller and Blue Devils freshman DJ Steward faced off in an early-season matchup last year between Morgan Park and Whitney Young. Miller is a silky multi-level scorer capable of putting up a big game for Illinois in Cameron.
Considering this will likely be a couple of weeks after the season kicks off, Duke and Coach K will have a better idea of a starting lineup and which rotations have blended the best. With a beast down low in Kofi Cockburn, Duke will have their hands full. Mark Williams and Patrick Tapé will be needed on the glass and protecting the paint.
Duke will have the advantage at most positions, but Ayo Dosunmo will likely be the best player to take the court that night. Fortunately for the Blue Devils, they have an influx of wings to throw at him and attempt to slow him down. If there is anything we have learned from Coach K, he does an amazing job of slowing down the opposing team’s best player.
History Between Duke/Illinois
Duke is 5-2 all-time vs. Illinois. Their most recent matchup came in 2007, where Duke won handily. 13 years later, this matchup will likely prove to be a much better game. The Blue Devils are 19-2 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, coming in at the top of the list all-time among both conferences. With Illinois on the slate, Duke’s non-conference schedule has hardened quite a bit due to their additional early test against Michigan State.