Thursday’s College Basketball Betting Previews: Indiana-Illinois, Valparaiso-Indiana State
Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Trent Frazier and Brad Underwood
Not only does Arch Madness tip off on Thursday evening, but the Big Ten regular season is wrapping up before its conference tournament begins next Wednesday as well.
Among their respective contests, eighth-seeded Indiana State matches up with ninth-seeded Valparaiso while Indiana and Illinois get underway an hour later from Urbana-Champaign.
Where’s the value in these matchups? Let’s break them down.
>> All odds as of Wednesday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAB odds and live win probabilities on your bets.
Betting Odds: Valparaiso Crusaders vs. Indiana State Sycamores
- Spread: Indiana State -2
- Over/Under: 131.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN+
The Sycamores (14-14 against the spread) swept their regular season series with the Crusaders (10-18-1) — with the total splitting in those two affairs.
I’m eyeing the latter area this time around, as each of Valparaiso’s past four contests hit the under. It is a product of its sluggish style of play at both ends, tallying the 48th-lowest Adjusted Tempo (65.0 possessions per 40 minutes) in the country while holding the opposition to the 40th-highest average possession length (18.1 seconds).
Valpo has also manufactured the lowest Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (98.6 opponents’ points per 100 possessions) in Missouri Valley play, so its ATS record doesn’t exactly showcase how well it has stymied conference opponents.
Whether or not Matt Lottich’s bunch is able to play at its pace defensively hinges on the offense, which owns the lowest Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (94.4 points per 100 possessions) in league play. But the Crusaders excelled inside the arc in both of their contests vs. Indiana State, and the Sycamores have yielded the highest 2-point clip (53.9%) to MVC teams.
If Indiana State’s third-ranked steal rate (20.4%) forces Valpo’s loose ball-handling out of a rhythm early, the Crusaders’ attack should struggle enough to keep the total under.
Expecting the Sycamores’ eighth-ranked AdjO (97.2 points per 100 possessions) to come out firing on a neutral court in St. Louis isn’t a lock, either.
These programs have combined to hit the under in 58.9% of their contests this season.
THE PICK: Under 131.5
Betting Odds: Indiana Hoosiers at Illinois Fighting Illini
- Spread: Illinois -2
- Over/Under: 141
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: Fox Sports 1
The Hoosiers (13-16 ATS) have covered in four straight games, including their second outright win vs. Michigan State this season. They’re somehow on the bubble despite their 6-12 league record, and they’ll have plenty on the line against the Fighting Illini (12-16-1 ATS) — in a letdown spot.
Brad Underwood’s bunch possess a revenge spot following an outright loss at Indiana on Jan. 3 — while covering in the process (+11). Illinois produced a costly 21 turnovers at Assembly Hall, and the Hoosiers cashed in on the break with a 58.3% 2-point clip.
But the Illini have turned their season around of late, going 4-3-1 ATS in their past eight games. Their suddenly effective ball pressure has amassed the conference’s highest opponents’ turnover rate (21.4%), led by guards Trent Frazier and Andres Feliz.
Archie Miller’s unit has produced the fourth-highest turnover rate (17.8%) in league play, so look for Illinois to flip the script this time around and generate its share of transition opportunities.
The last time around, five-star freshman Romeo Langford (16.9 points per game) dominated the Illini off the dribble drive to the tune of 28 points. But their shored up on-ball defense will limit his driving lanes in this rematch.
At the other end, Indiana’s biggest defensive concern comes inside the arc, letting up the 66th-highest 2-point scoring rate (52.5%) in Division I. Illinois uses its fair share of backdoor cuts within its motion offense, and freshman Ayo Dosunmu (14.0 ppg) and Co. should have room to maneuver inside the lane.
With Senior Day providing the Illini with additional motivation, they’re set to succeed in the spoiler role.
THE PICK: Illinois -2