Iowa vs. Illinois College Basketball Odds & Pick: Betting Value on Friday’s Over/Under (Jan. 29)
Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Garza.
- The Iowa Hawkeyes meet the Illinois Fighting Illini on Friday in Champaign in a battle between two top-20 programs.
- Two of the best offenses in the country also feature two of the best big men in Luka Garza and Kofi Cockburn.
- Whoever wins this won will have a leg up as Big Ten play reaches the stretch run. BJ Cunningham explains which side provides value.
Iowa vs. Illinois Odds
A top-20 Big Ten showdown takes place in Champaign on Friday night as the seventh-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes battle 19th-ranked Illinois.
This will be just the second time this season that Iowa will be an underdog. The last time they were in action, the Hawks were stunned on their home court by Indiana, which marked only their third loss of the season.
Iowa currently trails Michigan by one and a half games for the Big Ten title, so they desperately need to win on Friday to make up ground while the Wolverines are on pause.
It’s been an up-and-down season for Illinois, which currently sits at 10-5 and 6-3 in conference play. In fact, only one of those wins was against a team ranked in the KenPom top 30.
It’s the Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn Show in Champaign this season and the Illini’s success is almost solely dependent on those two. They will need to take over the game on Friday if Illinois is going to walk away with the victory.
When Iowa has the ball
The Hawkeyes have the best offense in the country and have been dominant in Big Ten play.
Iowa leads the conference at 1.18 points per possession, mainly because they’ve been shooting the lights out from all over the floor. The Hawks lead the conference in 3-point shooting at 39.5% and almost 40% of their shot attempts are coming from deep.
Luka Garza and company are also scoring at will inside the paint. The Hawks are shooting 52% on two-point attempts and 64.8% on shot attempts at the rim, per Hoop Math.
Garza himself is dominating opponents in the paint, as he’s shooting 65% from inside the arc.
He’ll be facing quite literally the biggest defender he’s seen all season in Cockburn, who is listed at 7-foot, 285 pounds. Garza will need to bring Cockburn away from the basket to allow the Hawkeyes to attack the rim effectively. It helps that Garza is shooting better than 46% from beyond the arc.
Illinois has been solid defensively during Big Ten play, allowing only 0.98 points per possession. The reason for that is it defends the paint at an elite level, allowing only 42.6% from inside the arc.
It held Penn State to only 31.8% on 2-point attempts last game, so they are well equipped to handle the Hawks’ interior offense. Cockburn is an incredibly imposing presence and is one of the best defensive rebounders in the country.
Iowa may find more success from behind the arc, as the Illini are allowing 37% from three-point range. In fact, Illinois is allowing better than 40% from deep in their last three games.
When Illinois has the ball
Dosunmu and Cockburn run the Illinois offense, combining to average 39.1 of the Illini’s 82.9 points per game.
Illinois is actually the second-best offense in the Big Ten behind Iowa, averaging 1.12 points per possession.
It’s one of the best teams in the country at scoring inside the paint, averaging 68.9% on shot attempts at the rim, which is the 14th-best rate in the country, per Hoop Math. Not only that, but Illinois also has the third-highest offensive rebounding rate in the Big Ten.
Illinois is red hot shooting the ball from deep, as they have the third-best three-point percentage in the conference at 37%. The Illini should be able to score all over the floor because the Hawkeyes are very weak defensively.
Iowa is allowing 1.05 points per possession during conference play and is struggling mightily to defend the perimeter, allowing 35.7% from 3-point range.
It also hasn’t been able to turn anybody over, as they have one of the lowest turnover percentages in the Big Ten.
Indiana torched Iowa in almost every aspect last week, as they hit better than 47% from deep and got to the free-throw line 35 times. Iowa does have the best offense in the country, but their defense is what is going to hold them back on Friday.
Betting Analysis & Pick
In a matchup with two of the best offenses in the conference, combined with shaky defense on one end, I think this game has the potential to be the highest-scoring game of the Big Ten season.
Both Iowa and Illinois should be able to light each other up from 3-point range and are in the top third in the country in terms of pace.
I have 165.60 points projected for this game, so I think there’s a little bit of value on over 162.5 points.
Pick: Over 162.5 points or better