Illinois vs Arkansas Betting Odds & Picks: Expect Offenses to Shine

Illinois vs Arkansas Betting Odds & Picks: Expect Offenses to Shine article feature image

Getty Images. Design by Matt Roembke/Action Network. Pictured from left: Ricky Council IV of Arkansas and Terrence Shannon Jr. of Illinois

Illinois vs Arkansas Odds

Thursday, March 16
4:30 p.m. ET
Illinois Odds
-110o / -110u
Arkansas Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The first-round 8-9 game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Illinois Fighting Illini may be the most neck-and-neck matchup in the entire tournament field.

Arkansas and Illinois both struggle mightily with hitting 3s. They both rank in the 50s in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, per KenPom, while maintaining strong defenses.

Illinois is much better at scoring inside and defending inside, while Arkansas can get to the line more often.

Finally, Arkansas ranks 54th in Adjusted Tempo while Illinois ranks 71st. Both love scoring in transition.

This looks to be a sloppy — yet entertaining — game of basketball, and it could come down to the wire.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois only shoots 30.9% from 3-point distance, but it can hit inside shots. The Illini are shooting 55.3% from 2-point range.

That said, they own a 41.9% 3-point attempt rate, so this is not very efficient.

Dain Dainja and Coleman Hawkins are solid inside threats, shooting above 59% from 2-point distance. Many of the wings and guards on the team hit over 50%, as well.

Arkansas has held opponents to 46.9% from 2-point range this year. Per ShotQuality, the Razorbacks rank 47th in points per possession (PPP) at the rim.

This may be a game where Illinois can knock down some 3s, as Arkansas ranks 311th in Open 3 Rate on defense and 246th on off-the-dribble 3s.

Illinois has struggled with these shots this season, but seeing open looks from deep may boost its confidence.

The Illini rank 136th in defensive turnover rate, but they are as efficient as a team can look in transition. They manufacture 1.35 PPP in transition, while Arkansas yields 1.27 on defense.

The Razorbacks rank 204th in this metric defensively, so this should be an edge to the Illini.

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Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas ranks eighth in the nation at 1.44 PPP in transition, but Illinois can actually defend when the ball gets pushed down floor.

The Illini rank sixth in transition defense at 1.15 PPP.

Since Illinois’ guards and wings like to get the ball down the floor quickly, Arkansas will show some vulnerabilities.

Terrance Shannon coming all the way from LINCOLN PARK to swat this.

— JohnJohnZelenika (@JohnZelenika) March 5, 2023

On the offensive end, Arkansas at least knows its strengths a bit more than the Illini do. The Razorbacks are only shooting 31.7% from 3-point range, but their 3-point attempt clip is only 28.2%.

They will get the ball inside. They are shooting 53.7% from inside the arc, but they rank 28th in free-throw attempt rate. Illinois ranks 99th on offense in this metric and 138th on defense.

The Illini can have a tendency to foul, and Arkansas will exploit this because it can get to the free-throw line much more often offensively.

However, Arkansas is one of the worst fouling teams in the country. It ranks 327th in free-throw attempt rate on defense. Illinois will be able to draw contact against this Razorbacks team consistently, especially Terrence Shannon Jr., who is one of the best at drawing contact in the Big Ten.

Arkansas doesn't shoot many 3s, but defending the 3 is one of Illinois’ weaknesses, as well. The Illini rank 262nd in Open 3 Rate defensively, so even if Arkansas may not shoot well from outside, it will have open attempts.

Illinois vs Arkansas Betting Pick

Look for this game to be messy. Both teams can turn the other over because defense is the specialty in this one.

Each team does well offensively in transition, and even though both have trouble shooting and defending 3s, they will have open opportunities to knock them down.

The fouling and fast pace should push this game over, even with a lack of deep threats.

Take the over from 143.5, and play it to 145 (-110).

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