CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Terrence Shannon Jr. is back in the lineup. Illinois basketball’s leading scorer has missed the past two games in concussion protocol but will be available Thursday night against No. 21 Northwestern.

The Wildcats are the Big Ten’s hottest team, winners of a league best five-straight games. Northwestern sits in sole possession of second place in the conference standings with just four games remaining in the regular season.

Both teams are in far different places than the last time they met on Jan. 4 in Evanston, when the Cats defended their home court with a 13-point win. The loss dropped the Illini to 0-3 in Big Ten play, sparking a run that saw the Orange and Blue rattle off seven of their next eight wins. Northwestern snapped an eight-game losing streak to Illinois last month, now they have a chance to win two games in the same season against their in-state rival for the first time since 1966.

“They’re lead by their guards,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said about the Wildcats. “Their guards are going to shoot a ton of shots. They score 20% of their points from the free throw line. They get fouled a ton and they’ve developed a very hearty bench, where they’re getting tremendous production from their bench so you know it’s going to be a hard fought game and we’ll have to play well.”

Illinois and Northwestern tip-off at 8 p.m. on Big Ten Network.