Iowa vs. Illinois College Basketball Betting Odds & Pick: Back Hawkeyes to Exact Revenge
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Iowa Hawkeyes guard Jordan Bohannon (3).
- Luka Garza and the Iowa Hawkeyes will go to battle against Ayo Dosunmu and the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday afternoon.
- The Hawkeyes and Illini are both coming off impressive performances in the Big Ten Tournament, but Iowa will be looking for revenge.
- Check out BJ Cunningham's full betting guide complete with updated odds below.
Iowa vs. Illinois Odds
Illinois and Iowa meet for a crucial Big Ten semifinal game that could decide who gets a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Iowa used a strong second-half performance to beat Wisconsin for the third time this season. The Hawkeyes are getting hot at the right time, winning eight of their last nine games heading into Saturday. They lost to Illinois, 80-75, in the lone regular-season meeting, so the Hawks will be out for some revenge this time around.
Illinois cruised past Rutgers in the quarterfinals and is the hottest team in the country right now. The Illini have won 12 of their last 13 games, including wins on the road over Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin to end the season. Illinois is currently projected to be a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament, but a bad loss to Iowa could potentially drop Brad Underwood’s squad to a two-seed.
When Iowa Has the Ball
It’s no surprise that the Hawkeyes’ offense revolves around the best big man in college basketball, Luka Garza. The senior is averaging 23.8 points per game and dropped 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting Friday night against Wisconsin.
However, going up against the biggest man in the Big Ten in 7-foot, 285-pound Kofi Cockburn will be a challenge.
The Hawks though can beat teams from all over the court, as they lead the Big Ten in efficiency, averaging 1.15 points per possession. They can bomb 3s with the best of them, averaging more than 40% during conference play. Iowa also has dominated opponents down low, making 62.3% of its shots at the rim, per Hoop-Math.
It shot the ball pretty well against Illinois back in January, hitting 43% from the field and 10-of-25 from beyond the arc. This biggest difference in that game was Iowa could not get to the free-throw line, shooting only six free throws for the entire game.
Illinois has been one of the best teams defensively in college basketball, ranking seventh in defensive efficiency, per KenPom. It defends the paint at an elite level, allowing only 45.1% from 2-point range.
So, if the Hawks are going to win this game, they’ll have to do it from 2-point range and the free-throw line.
When Illinois Has the Ball
Illinois has been back at full strength over its last two games and averaged over 1.15 points per possession in those games. It sure does help when you have two of the best players in the country on the same team in Ayo Dosunmu and Cockburn, who combine for 38.2 points per game.
Much like Iowa, Illinois also can shred its opponents from all over the court. The Illini boast the No. 1 offense inside the arc, averaging over 54% and 67.3% on shot attempts at the rim, per Hoop-Math.
Illinois also shoots a blistering 38% from 3-point range, which ranks inside the top 25 in college basketball. It torched Iowa from deep in their January meeting, shooting 43% from deep, so Iowa is likely going to have issues once again on the defensive end of the floor.
The Hawkeyes have really improved defensively over the second half of the season, as they’ve allowed their opponents to score more than 70 points only twice in their last nine games.
Really, the way to beat Iowa’s defense is from behind the arc, which Illinois is well-equipped to do.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Even though Illinois has looked fantastic over the past month, I think the Hawkeyes will exact revenge for the loss in Champaign. Iowa’s improved greatly since these two teams met and should be able to keep Illinois offense in check.
I only have Illinois projected as a -1.76 favorite, so I think there’s some value on the Hawkeyes at +4.
Pick: Iowa +4 (down to +3).