NCAAB Odds, Pick for Illinois vs Northwestern

NCAAB Odds, Pick for Illinois vs Northwestern article feature image

Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images. Pictured: Boo Buie (Northwestern)

Illinois vs Northwestern Odds, Pick

Wednesday, Jan. 24
9 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Illinois Odds
-110o / -110u
Northwestern Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAB odds here.

Brad Underwood's Illinois Fighting Illini continued their winning ways by defeating Rutgers on Sunday.

The big news from the contest is that superstar Terrence Shannon Jr. returned to the team. Although he didn't contribute much to the stat sheet, it was clear that Shannon was impactful on the court.

On Wednesday, the Illini head up to Evanston to take on the Northwestern Wildcats. The Cats are coming off a tough loss at Nebraska. They're now 3-4 in Big Ten play, so they'll desperately need a big win at home to turn the tide of their season.

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Illinois Fighting Illini

I was wrong about the Illini on Sunday, as I thought their offense would struggle against the Rutgers defense. Instead, they scored all over the floor and put up over 80 points, despite a poor performance from Shannon.

There's no questioning the talent of the Illini, and they'll have the edge against the Wildcats in that department.

The issue is that everybody in the Big Ten struggles to win on the road. The recurring theme is why I can't back the Illini. The metrics for Underwood's team are spectacular, including being top-30 in Offensive and Defensive Efficiency.

Besides the road voodoo, the Illini will face a few issues against the Wildcats' offense. Despite the Illini's strong interior and perimeter defense, they don't force turnovers.

The Wildcats protect the basketball at an elite rate on offense, which means they shouldn't have many empty trips on the offensive end. The Illini will be challenged beyond the arc, as the Cats are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the Big Ten.

The Illini are due for some slight offensive regression, but they should have no problem scoring throughout the game. I don't question their talent, but I think the line is too rich for my blood.

Northwestern Wildcats

Chris Collins' team is not deep and may lack the physicality to hang tough with the Illini. The defensive side of the floor is what's going to determine the winner of the contest.

Taking a deeper dive into the Wildcats' defensive numbers, they're far from impressive. They struggle to rebound the basketball and opponents are shooting 36% from deep.

Their aggressive defense has gotten them into foul trouble. However, they force a lot of turnovers because of this.

If the Cats can force turnovers, their offense will get enough transition opportunities to score before the Illini can set up their half-court defense. I think if the Wildcats play a sound defensive game, their offense is more than capable of hanging tough throughout the evening.

The Wildcats don't have depth, so you'll see familiar faces throughout the game. Their starting lineup consists of three guys who can get hot at any second from beyond the arc.

Backcourt tandem Boo Buie and Ty Berry are lethal shooters, and I have faith they can crack the tough Illini perimeter defense. Forward Ryan Langborg is also shooting 38% from deep.

I have no concerns about the Wildcats' offense in the matchup. The path to covering the number lies on the defensive end of the floor.

Illinois vs. Northwestern

Betting Pick & Prediction

I will continue fading the Big Ten road teams until the chickens come to roost. This is also a decent spot to back the Wildcats after a tough loss at Nebraska.

The Illini head into Welsh-Ryan Arena on Wednesday riding high with their star player back in the fold. I think they come out flat with an aloof mindset.

The Wildcats 'defense has to show up to make this a competitive ball game, and if they're able to cause havoc on the Illini offense, I like their chances. I'm more than happy to take the 4.5 points with the home 'dog, and I expect a big performance from Collins' team to get back on track.

Pick: Northwestern +4.5 (Play to +3)

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