Illinois vs Penn State Odds & Prediction: Betting Value on Illini?
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Terrence Shannon Jr. (Illinois)
Illinois vs Penn State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Penn State Odds|
-110o / -110u
Penn State has been down-spiraling in Big Ten play lately. It notched early conference wins over Illinois, Iowa and Indiana, but has now dropped eight of its last 11 games.
The Illinois Fighting Illini are their opponent on Tuesday night, and the Illini look to be hitting a groove. Aside from a roadblock against Indiana in mid-January, this team has only lost a close one to Iowa on the road.
Yes, the Nittany Lions destroyed the Illini on the road the first time around. One would think they are primed for a home win, but these teams are currently at two different stages.
Typically, this would be a great spot for Penn State, but backing it is not the right idea. Taking the surging team — instead of the weak one — should be the side.
Illinois has thrived with its defense this season. Per KenPom, the Illini rank 17th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, fifth in 2-point percentage and 81st in 3-point percentage.
Yes, this 3-point percentage may be concerning, especially against Penn State, which carries a 48.2% 3-point attempt percentage. The Nittany Lions are hitting 38.7% from distance.
Last time these two faced off, Andrew Funk and Myles Dread combined to go 11-of-18 from 3-point land. Jalen Pickett did the dirty work inside, going 9-of-16 from 2-point range.
Brad Underwood does tend to be stubborn with schemes, but given how the points were so concentrated via three different Nittany Lions, he should have his guys ready to guard these threats.
Bear in mind, Terrence Shannon Jr. only had four points in that game. He has been one of the more impressive Illini and should be back to normal in this game.
Dain Dainja also barely played in December and is now a fixture of the Illinois offense.
Illinois holds the 18th-lowest 3-point attempt percentage on defense. This is another reason the first matchup with Penn State should be an outlier.
The Illini own the third-best Rim & 3 Rate, per ShotQuality, on defense, as well.
This means they restrict their opponent’s ability to manufacture shots from 3-point land and close in on the interior.
Photo by CBB Analytics
Since the Illini have been so strong defending the inside, they should match up with Pickett better this time.
Penn State yields a ton of 3s on defense, and Illinois ranks 52nd in 3-point attempt percentage on offense.
The Illini are not the most efficient 3-point shooting team (at a touch under 32%), but Matthew Mayer, Shannon and Sencire Harris have all hit above the 32.5% mark. They would be the threats to be aware of.
The Nittany Lions also struggle to haul in offensive boards. They rank 363rd in offensive rebounding percentage, mostly because the majority of their offensive sets have four players standing around the perimeter, aside from Pickett.
Illinois ranks 35th in offensive rebounding, so this should be a noticeable discrepancy between the two.
In addition, the 2-point offense could be the difference between these two teams. Illinois is manufacturing 1.24 points per possession at the rim versus Penn State’s 1.16.
Illinois’ Rim & 3 Rate ranks 74th on offense versus Penn State’s at 150th. Even though the Illini will give up some open 3s to the Nittany Lions, their 2-point defense should be lockdown in this matchup, as it has been since these two teams first met.
Illinois vs Penn State Betting Pick
Illinois is a completely different team than it looked when it took the floor in December. The Illini are playing like the team that knocked off UCLA and Texas instead of the team that lost by 15 to Penn State.
They are finally shaking the rust off from not playing much together as a unit. Meanwhile, Penn State is hitting a cold spell.
The Fighting Illini are one of the most efficient defensive teams in conference play.
Take them at -2.5 (-106), and play it to -3 (-110).
Pick: Illinois -2.5 (Play to -3)
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