After suffering five consecutive defeats, including three tough losses in Madison, Marisa Moseley’s Wisconsin squad (2-9, 0-2 Big Ten) tips off against the Illinois State Redbirds (3-6, 0-0 Missouri Valley Conference) at the Kohl Center on Thursday.

The two last met in December 2016, with the Badgers handling the Redbirds in dominant fashion, 64-46. Though these Midwestern foes total three all-time battles, UW holds a 2-1 mark and two-game winning streak over Illinois State since November 2014.

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Led by Kristen Gillespie, the anchor of a 71-53 Redbird program during her five-year tenure, the 2020-21 team went 16-9 and secured a postseason bid to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament for the first time in eight years. With the departure of Terrion Moore, Gillespie’s third leading scorer a season ago, Illinois State has experienced a six-point drop in scoring margin from +8.1 points to +1.9.

At the opposite end of the hardwood, UW notches 59.7 points per contest off 40.3% from the field and an improved 28.9% from three-point range — nearly a two percentage-point increase after Sunday’s bout vs. Green Bay. The Red and White force 7.2 steals, chalk up 11.2 points off turnovers and grab 32.1 rebounds — 330 out of 348 qualified programs in the nation. 

Both squads take care of the ball, as the Birds rank 62nd (14.4) while the Badgers land at 85th (14.9) in the NCAA for fewest turnovers per game.

Despite going scoreless against Northwestern and missing Sunday’s match vs. Green Bay, Wisconsin junior Sydney Hilliard still remains in the top-50 in the country with 56.3% efficiency from the floor. The Monroe native averages 14.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 34.6 minutes of action each time out. Without attempting a single look from downtown, the 5-foot-11-inch guard leads UW with 58 made field-goals and 36 defensive boards. 

Through 36 minutes per game over eight appearances, junior Julie Pospíšilová puts up 14.9 points, four rebounds, four assists and 1.6 steals per game. In 413 total minutes logged this season (4th most in the country), point guard Katie Nelson leads Wisconsin with 19 steals and freshman Krystyna Ellew registers 8.5 points and averages four rebounds in her time on the court for Moseley.

Illinois State names to watch

Fifth-year guard Juliunn Redmond, a 2020-21 All-Conference First Team member, records 14.2 points and 4.6 boards over 31 minutes per match. Through nine games, the Chicago native accounts for 47 made field goals with a 51% clip from the hardwood, enough to fall within the top-20 in efficiency for a guard in Division I hoops.

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Responsible for a team-leading 65 total rebounds, junior DeAnna Wilson averages 12.1 points and reaches the charity stripe almost five times in only 23.4 minutes of action per contest. Alongside Redmond and Wilson, redshirt sophomore Maya Wong adds 9.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per bout. The 5-foot-8-inch guard leads the Redbirds with 30 total assists this season in 268 total minutes.

Wisconsin averages nearly 65 points when facing Illinois State, and if Moseley’s group can maintain offensive intensity, the Badgers could certainly add to their win column on Thursday night.