Illinois vs. Iowa Odds & Picks: Where the Value Lies in Big Ten College Basketball Showdown
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Kofi Cockburn
- Illinois travels to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes in a Big Ten showdown.
- The Illini have won four in a row, while the Hawkeyes are coming off a loss to Purdue.
- Doug Ziefel breaks down the matchup and offers up his pick.
Illinois vs. Iowa Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Coming into the season, we all projected the Big Ten to be the premier and most competitive conference in the nation. Well, the conference has already given us a number of great games, and we are in store for another one here.
The Fighting Illini are rolling into this matchup, as they have won four straight after having a rocky start to the year. Their recent success has stemmed from them finding their groove on the offensive end.
This will be Illinois’ toughest test to date, though, as it enters a hostile road environment.
That hostile environment will be created by the ruckus Hawkeye faithful.
This Iowa team has been a bit of a surprise so far this season. The Hawkeyes currently sit at 7-1 on the year, with their most recent contest being a loss to the juggernaut Purdue Boilermakers.
The Hawkeyes showed some heart, though, as they trimmed a large gap to make the final score much tighter than anticipated.
Will that moral victory carry over into this crucial conference matchup? Or will the Fighting Illini prove that Iowa may not be ready to compete in the Big Ten?
King Kofi Leading Fighting Illini
I mentioned previously that Illinois has gotten it going on the offensive end over the last four games.
Well, it is no coincidence that the Illini’s star player and National Player of the Year candidate, Kofi Cockburn, has been dominant during that stretch.
The junior big man from Jamaica has been a force down low, stringing together scoring totals of 23, 38, 28 and 13. He’s also been a vacuum on the boards, posting rebounding totals of 13, 10, eight and 15 over the same stretch.
Check out his domination of lowly Texas Rio Grand Valley:
Kofi Cockburn 38PTS, 10REB em 15-19FG vs Texas Rio Grand Valley.
— NBA Scout BR 🇧🇷🏀 (@NBAScoutBR) November 27, 2021
Even though Cockburn has been great, the Illini are not a one-man show.
Senior guard Alfonso Plummer has been lights out from the field recently. He is now averaging over 15 points per game after posting four-straight 20-plus point performances. Illinois is in position to have another strong offensive performance.
As for all of the Hawkeyes’ success, it has not come from overwhelming defense. The Fighting Illini are 18th in adjusted offensive efficiency, whereas Iowa is 98th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Illini will also have a sizeable advantage on the boards, as they rank eighth in offensive rebounding rate.
Buckets Coming in Bunches For Hawkeyes
Iowa’s hot start has certainly raised some eyebrows, as it has come by the way of multiple offensive flurries.
The Hawkeyes are averaging 91 points per game and are sixth in adjusted offensive efficiency. They have been shooting exceedingly well, as they hold a 56.6 effective field goal percentage, which is good for 18th in the country.
Much of that great shooting and scoring has come from one man, Keegan Murray. The sophomore forward has been doing it all for the Hawkeyes. He is averaging 24.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, which are both leading the team.
Look at this move in his game against Virginia:
Watch out for Keegan Murray pic.twitter.com/g6Y0dL8w1Y
— Tom Goldhammer (@MammothRedlog) November 30, 2021
We saw how the Boilermakers were able to take control and go on extended runs against the Hawkeyes by forcing outside shots and controlling the boards.
The Fighting Illini will pose a similar scheme, as they are 31st in effective field goal and defense. Also, the Hawkeyes have no one to match up with Cockburn down low.
Illinois vs. Iowa Betting Pick
The Fighting Illini are surging and will have a significant edge on the offensive end of the floor. Also, the Hawkeyes are being a little overvalued because of their hot start.
I would play Illinois at a number as an underdog.