Thursday College Basketball Odds, Pick & Prediction: Maryland vs. Illinois Betting Preview

Thursday College Basketball Odds, Pick & Prediction: Maryland vs. Illinois Betting Preview article feature image

Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Kofi Cockburn.

  • The Illinois Fighting Illini host the Maryland Terrapin in Big Ten basketball action on Thursday night.
  • Illinois is finally becoming the team college basketball fans thought it would be before the season, thanks in part to big man Kofi Cockburn.
  • DJ James explains below whether or not the Illini are worth betting on Thursday evening.

Maryland vs. Illinois Odds

Thursday, Jan. 6
7 p.m. ET
Maryland Odds
-110o / -110u
Illinois Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The Illinois Fighting Illini have shot up the Big Ten standings to start the season, going 3-0 against Rutgers, Iowa, and Minnesota.

Maryland is 0-2 with losses to Northwestern and Iowa. Its current 8-5 record does not sit well heading into consistent Big Ten play.

The Terrapins now head to the House of ‘Paign at State Farm Center, and Kofi Cockburn looks to potentially dominate yet another opponent.

Maryland Terrapins

Maryland is 5-8 against the spread thus far on the season with a cover against Iowa in its last contest. Unfortunately for the Terps, things will not get much easier traveling to play Illinois.

The Terrapins have an effective field goal percentage of 47.9%, per KenPom, ranking 241st in the NCAA. The reason is they're not particularly strong inside or outside of the arc.

They shoot 30.7% from deep and 48.8% inside and attribute only 25.8% of their scoring to 3-pointers. Essentially, they are going to have trouble with Kofi Cockburn, Coleman Hawkins, and Omar Payne inside. This is a clear edge to the Illini.

Not only that, but since they will not be able to produce nearly as many points as usual from inside shots, they do not have the outside artillery to make up for it.

Eric Ayala and Donta Scott shoot the lion’s share of 3s, and they only shoot 33.7% and 27.8%, respectively. Hakim Hart (36.1%) and Fatts Russell (34.3%) are a bit more efficient, but Trent Frazier, Da’Monte Williams, and company have a top-30 defense. Outside shooting is the only factor to keep the Terps in reach.

Lastly, Maryland can crash boards on defense (40th in the NCAA), but it does not do well on the offensive glass (155th). Illinois is a bit weaker on the defensive side, but second chances will be plentiful, as the Illini rank just behind Kentucky for the best offensive rebounding team in the country.

Maryland, basically, will not be able to stop second chances for the Illini.

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Illinois Fighting Illini

The Illini are the opposite of the Terps from outside. Of all Illinois scoring, 37.7% comes from outside the arc, mainly from Frazier, Alfonso Plummer, Jacob Grandison, and some others.

They shoot 39.9% from downtown, which ranks ninth in college hoops. Maryland allows an average of 34.0% to fall from distance, so this looks like a nightmare scenario for the Terrapins. Illinois could get out to an insurmountable lead from 3-point range, not even factoring in Cockburn.

Now, Cockburn is the best offensive big man in the country. He averages the second-most points per game in the country behind Iowa's Keegan Murray and also makes 60.9% of his field goals. He has also proven himself from the line, increasing his free throw percentage by around 15% from last season.

Maryland doesn't necessarily foul much, but it may get frustrated from this big man advantage for Illinois.

Illinois’ Achilles' heel this season has been its turnover rate. While Maryland’s defense may be relatively strong compared to the field, it turns the opposition over at the 306th-highest rate in the country. This should bode well for the Illini, especially on their home floor.

Maryland vs. Illinois Betting Pick

It is hard to see a scenario in which the Terps steal one on the road or even cover in Champaign on Thursday evening.

Illinois looks like the team college basketball fans and bettors have expected, and it's primed for a noteworthy run in the Big Ten this year. If Illinois can manage to protect the ball, hit some outside shots, and get it to Cockburn, it will be golden.

Take the Illini at -11.5 and play them to -13.5.

Pick: Illinois -11.5 (Play to -13.5)

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