Illinois-Iowa Betting Preview: Will the Hawkeyes Handle the Budding Illini?

Illinois-Iowa Betting Preview: Will the Hawkeyes Handle the Budding Illini? article feature image
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Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Illinois Fighting Illini guard Ayo Dosunmu (11).

After Saturday’s riveting college basketball slate, including Virginia covering against Duke at the buzzer, Sunday’s docket is dialed down a bit.

But don’t fret, as three ranked teams are in action. One of them is No. 23 Iowa, taking on an Illinois squad that blasted Minnesota by 37 points (!) on Wednesday.

Which Big Ten team presents more value? Let’s breakdown the matchup.


>> All odds as of Saturday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAB odds and track your bets.


Betting Odds: Illinois Fighting Illini at Iowa Hawkeyes

  • Spread: Iowa -8
  • Over/Under: 156.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV: Big Ten Network

Although the Hawkeyes (9-9 against the spread) have covered in four straight games, the Fighting Illini (7-10 ATS) have done so in three of their past four contests. Illinois is 5-12 straight up, but its record doesn’t indicate how skilled its roster is.

Illini five-star freshman Ayo Dosunmu has manufactured 21 points per game over his past five contests and his teammates’ development has revolved around attacking the rim.

With Iowa’s opponents generating 53.4% of their scoring inside the arc — the 54th-highest rate in the country — look for Dosunmu and Co. to have success via the dribble drive.

Brad Underwood’s spread attack could get an even bigger lift if sophomore guard Trent Frazier (14.8 ppg) can build some consistency after reaching double figures in his past two games.

Frazier and Dosunmu form one of the more underrated backcourts in the conference, and the Hawkeyes’ backcourt of Jordan Bohannon and Isaiah Moss aren’t feared defensively by any means.

Iowa forward Tyler Cook (sprained ankle) is reportedly more likely to suit up than he was on Wednesday, missing their matchup against Penn State. Still, Illinois squared off against a physical Golden Gophers’ frontcourt with Jordan Murphy and Daniel Oturu while posting a 58.0 FG% in its victory.

One of the critical matchups to watch for will be how Illini freshman Giorgi Bezhanishvili handles the 6-foot-11 Luka Garza (13.5 ppg) in the low-post. The Hawkeyes sophomore has the skillset to fluster Bezhanishvili inside, and his teammates are more than capable of playing inside out through him.

But with Illinois primarily employing a small-ball lineup, it’s more adept at switching on ball screens and closing out around the perimeter. Its opponents are notching just 24.5% of their scoring from 3-point land — the 41st-lowest across Division I.

Both programs own a top-77 Adjusted Tempo, so I’d lean with the high total reaching the over. Nevertheless, with each team boasting a top-100 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, I’m staying away from that department.

According to our Bet Labs data, Big Ten road dogs are 23-19-1 (54.8%) ATS  in-conference this season. Expect that trend to continue in Iowa City.

THE PICK: Illinois +8