Northwestern vs Illinois Betting Preview
Illinois will make the 2.5-hour trek from Champaign up to Evanston on Wednesday night to battle Northwestern. The Illini have opened as 3.5-point road favorites against the Wildcats, with the total sitting at 132.5 points. Illinois is still seeking its first conference win of the season, while Northwestern is licking its wounds after getting thrashed by Ohio State on Sunday.
Northwestern vs Illinois Betting Odds
|Wednesday, January 4
|Big Ten Basketball Betting Notes, Courtesy of Caesars
|Illinois Illini -3.5 at Northwestern Wildcats
|Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Illinois
|9:00pm ET / 6:00pm PT
|Big Ten Network
Northwestern vs Illinois Analysis
With early-season wins over Texas and UCLA, few would have thought that Illinois would still be searching for its first conference win on January 4. Illinois dropped a close road conference at Maryland, which can certainly be excused. But the 15-point loss in Champaign against Penn State is what has Big Ten followers raising their eyebrows. Illinois’ defense has been shredded for 1.16 points per possession against Penn State, followed by 1.35 points per possession in a 22-point loss to Missouri.
Chris Collins continues to make improvements at Northwestern, but it’s tough to get a true gauge of where the Wildcats are at this season. They played the No. 277 non-conference schedule according to KenPom’s numbers with six wins coming outside KenPom’s top-200. A seven-point road win at Michigan State helped to inflate some expectations in Evanston, but those came back down to earth pretty quickly on Sunday when the Buckeyes had that game sewn up within the first ten minutes.
This game will likely be decided on how much Northwestern’s defense can disrupt the flow of the Illinois offense. The Wildcats are top-30 in the country in forcing turnovers. Illinois’ offense is No. 305 in the country in commiting them. Northwestern has a pair of senior guards in Boo Buie and Chase Audrige that have played a lot of basketball together. If they can harass Illinois’ guards into making mistakes, then the Wildcats should be able to stay in this fight. Opponents are shooting just 39.1-percent from two-point range against the Wildcats this season, which is the lowest in the nation.
While we can sing the praises of Northwestern’s defense, unfortunately the same can’t be said on the offensive side of the ball. The Wildcats are No. 195 in KenPom’s offensive efficiency ratings. They are No. 283 in the country in shooting from two-point range and No. 329 in the country in shooting from three-point range.
Illinois will be without freshman Skyy Clark who just underwent foot surgery on his left foot. Clark started all 12 games before leaving the Missouri game and missing the last outing against Bethune-Cookman.
Northwestern vs Illinois Prediction
Northwestern is just 18-29 against the spread as a home underdog (or pick’em) under head coach Collins. We should have a pretty good atmosphere at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Coach Collins will have his Wildcats’ attention after the drubbing they received by Ohio State. Illinois has only played one game in the last two weeks, so the Illini might have some rust to shake off, especially since they need to get used to life without Clark in the rotation. Under 62.5 in the first half looks appealing.
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