Sunday College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Iowa vs. Illinois
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Kofi Cockburn.
- Illinois is favored at home on Senior Night against Iowa.
- The Illini are a hugely experienced team, led by big man Kofi Cockburn down low.
- Alex Hinton breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.
Iowa vs. Illinois Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
The No. 24 Iowa Hawkeyes (22-8, 10-7) are playing their best basketball to close the regular season. Since a double-overtime loss at Penn State, the Hawkeyes have won nine of their last 10 games.
Next, Iowa will look to avenge another earlier loss when it heads to Champaign to battle the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Illinois comes in as winners of three of its last four. On Thursday night, Illinois was able to grind out a 60-55 win over Penn State at home. The Fighting Illini improved to 21-8 overall and 14-5 in Big Ten play.
Illinois has won four straight in a series that has been dominated by the home team. The Illini lead the all-time series 89-76, but they hold a 64-17 edge in Champaign. However, Illinois was able to pull out a 87-83 win in Iowa City back on Dec. 6.
Can Iowa keep rolling or will the home team take another battle in this series?
Since Fran McCaffery arrived in Iowa City, his teams have been known for offense. This year’s bunch is no different. Iowa ranks fifth nationally in scoring offense at 83.6 points per game and is fourth in both adjusted offensive efficiency and offensive rating.
The Hawkeyes are led by forward Keegan Murray, who has put forth an All-American caliber season. Murray is the only player nationally to average 23+ points, 8+ rebounds, and 2+ blocks this season and one of three players from a major conference in the last decade. He had 19 points in the first meeting against Illinois and 23 points in the win over Michigan.
Murray’s twin brother, Kris, had 19 points in the Michigan win. The sophomore forward is averaging 10.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and shooting 40% from deep off the bench.
Senior guard Jordan Bohanon has sparked the Hawkeyes’ recent surge. Since he was moved to point guard, the Hawkeyes are 8-1. Bohanon is averaging 11.2 points on the year and he needs 25 points for 2,000 for his career.
Fran’s son, Connor, is a 38.5% 3-pointer on the season, but he has been on fire of late. The senior is 11-of-16 from beyond the arc over his last five games. His younger brother, Patrick, is averaging 10.5 points and 3.8 rebounds.
While Fran McCaffery’s teams have typically been elite offensively, they have usually struggled at the defensive end. That has been the case this season as Iowa ranks 74th in adjusted defensive efficiency. However, it is up to fifth in the Big Ten in the metric during conference games. The Hawkeyes are holding opponents to 66.4 points over the last five games.
Rebounding will be an area of concern against the Fighting Illini. The Hawkeyes are 240th in defensive rebounding percentage and last in the BigTen. It could be a long day on the glass for the Hawkeyes going against Kofi Cockburn.
Like Iowa, Illinois has four double-digit scorers.
Center Kofi Cockburn averages 21 points and 10.5 rebounds, 3.2 coming on the offensive end. He had 17 points and 18 rebounds in the first meeting. Guard Alfonso Plummer averages 15.1 points and shoots 42% from deep on 7.3 attempts per game. He leads the Big Ten with 89 triples.
Guard Trent Frazier averages 12.5 points and four assists. He is fifth on Illinois’ all-time scoring list with 1,771 points. Swingman Jacob Grandison averages 10.3 points and shoots 41% on 4.8 attempts.
Sunday’s game will be Senior Day for Cockburn, Frazier, Plummer and Grandison along with guard Da’Monte Williams, who scored a season-high 14 points in the win over Penn State on Thursday.
Illinois is 18th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency. It ranks 39th in effective field goal percentage and 30th in offensive rebounding percentage. Illinois outrebounds its opponents by 6.4 per game and outrebounded Iowa 52-23 in the first meeting.
Defensively, Illinois is 32nd nationally and second in the Big Ten in adjusted defensive efficiency. It ranks 27th in effective field goal percentage and 21st in two-point percentage defense. The presence of Cockburn certainly makes a difference in altering shots.
Iowa vs. Illinois Betting Pick
Iowa and Illinois both have potent offenses, Illinois has the better defense. In what should be a close game, I trust Illinois to get more stops when necessary than Iowa. Additionally, Illinois should control the glass again. I don’t anticipate the difference being +29 again, Illinois will have a sizable edge in that area.
If Illinois is able to get some help in the form of a shocking upset from Nebraska, it will claim a share of the Big Ten Title and the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Either way, Illinois will have plenty of motivation for conference tournament seeding and its senior day.
Iowa is 3-0 in Senior Night games this season, spoiling the celebrations for Nebraska and Michigan. I expect that streak to end and Illinois to continue its winning streak over Iowa.