College Basketball Odds, Pick, Prediction: Wisconsin vs. Illinois (Wednesday, February 2)
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images. Pictured: Kofi Cockburn (Illinois)
- Two Wooden Award candidates go head-to-head as No. 11 Wisconsin travels to No. 18 Illinois.
- Johnny Davis and Kofi Cockburn could put on a show in Champaign, but the Illini hold some advantages.
- Doug Ziefel explains what those are and offers up his best bet.
Wisconsin vs. Illinois Odds
-114o / -106u
-114o / -106u
The stars will get their opportunity to shine in this Big Ten matchup, as Johnny Davis and the Wisconsin Badgers take on Kofi Cockburn and Fighting Illini.
The red-hot Badgers were recently cooled off by Michigan State, but have rebounded nicely with back-to-back victories over Nebraska and Minnesota.
Now, the competition will be ramped up once again, and it feels like the Badgers are going to have to prove themselves once more.
Both fans and players of the Fighting Illini were elated to see their leader Cockburn return to the lineup against Northwestern. His return would wind up being more necessary than initially thought, as he carried Illinois to victory.
With the rust shaken off of Cockburn, and his teammates bound for some positive regression, will Illinois take control of the Big Ten Conference?
Look for Wisconsin to Stretch the Floor
This season, Davis’ meteoric rise has changed how the Badgers attack their opposition. Davis has shown the ability to score from anywhere on the court, as he can create off of the dribble and get open off of the ball during offensive sets.
Not only is his ability to create offense a significant edge, but it also helps when you’re shooting like he is. Davis is hitting 44% from the field and 36% from 3.
That high 3-point percentage is what he has in common with his backcourt mate, Brad Davison. Davison has been a long-range sniper this season, as he’s shooting 39% from behind the arc. He’s been dialed in lately. shooting 15-of-27 from behind the arc in his last three games.
Both players’ 3-point prowess will be essential to the Badgers’ success in this matchup.
The presence of Cockburn down low will eliminate any hope of the Badgers working the ball down to the low block. Extending beyond the arc is where the Illini have been hurt this season, though.
Illinois is 123rd in 3-point percentage allowed, and 3s could be raining if it gives the Wisconsin backcourt any room to breathe.
Expect Illini Backcourt to Bounce Back
As I eluded to in the intro, anyone not named Cockburn had a rough shooting day against Northwestern. The team’s best shooter, Alfonso Plummer, got into foul trouble and was only 2-for-6 from the field in limited minutes. Trent Frazier also had his share of struggles, as he went 2-of-10 from the field.
Those types of performances are not common from the likes of Plummer and Frazier, as they shoot 44% and 41% from the field, respectively.
Nevertheless, the numbers point to better performances, and the matchup adds to that likelihood. Despite being ranked 39th in adjusted defensive efficiency, Wisconsin’s shooting percentages are not all that impressive.
The Badgers have allowed their opposition to shoot 48.6% from inside the arc and 33.8% from behind it. Those numbers rank 136th and 201st, respectively.
While the Fighting Illini shooters may be in line for a good night, their big man in the middle could aid that as more of a decoy. Cockburn has been close to unguardable this season, but the Badgers have the size and length to match up with him.
I expect Kofi to get his share early, and then look to distribute back outside when the double team comes.
Wisconsin vs. Illinois Betting Pick
This is a good spot to buy the better team here. Wisconsin certainly has earned its ranking, as its run early on this season was very impressive. However, it has slowly come back down to earth, even in its recent wins.
The Illini are in an excellent position to get their shots on offense, and they will have the big man to clean up misses on both ends.
I’m backing Illinois here, and may even sprinkle on its first-half number, as it should get off to a hot start at home.
Pick: Illinois -6.5
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