Indiana and Illinois are both NCAA Tournament-bound in an upside down year for the Big Ten, but Saturday’s midwest matchup will have huge implications in the standings leading into the conference tournament. Can the Hoosiers bounce back from a controversial loss at Northwestern, or will it be the Illini rebounding after a loss to Penn State?
Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks and predictions for Saturday’s matchup at Assembly Hall.
Illinois vs. Indiana Prediction & Pick
Indiana really took it to Illinois on the road last time out. These two teams are probably closer than that result indicated, but returning the favor and beating the Hoosiers on the road will be a very tough task for Illinois without leading scorer Terrence Shannon Jr.
Indiana is 13-1 at home, with its only loss being a one-point defeat against Northwestern without Race Thompson. Since then, the Hoosiers have learned how to play without Xavier Johnson and have looked terrific at home.
Only time will tell what kind of defense Illinois will have on Saturday – the unit looked great for a large stretch of Big Ten play but struggled against Iowa and Penn State this month. Just 3-4 on the road, it’s fair to question whether Illinois will be able to contain Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino. Even if that happens, is there any reliability on the offensive end without Shannon?
The Hoosiers should have a chip on their shoulder after an apparent non-call contributed to a loss to Northwestern on Wednesday. Indiana +6 is the pick – the Hoosiers can win this one comfortably.
Illinois vs. Indiana Odds
Indiana enters as a 6-point favorite, sitting at -240 on the moneyline. The over/under is 143 points.
The Hoosiers are moderate favorites at home. Indiana has been very successful at home this season and already has a win over Illinois on the road, so it’s an expected line. There isn’t too much separation between the Hoosiers and Illini in terms of performance, so will home-court advantage be enough to lift Indiana to a comfortable win?
Illinois vs. Indiana Key Matchups
Indiana averages 76 points per game, but the offense has taken a step back of late with four games under 70 points in their last five. That stretch includes wins over Purdue, Rutgers, and Michigan, so the Hoosiers are still doing something right.
This is a smart offensive team. Indiana leans heavily on star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis but doesn’t rely completely on him. While Jackson-Davis does all of his work inside the three-point line, the Hoosiers shoot 37.8% from beyond the arc and can get key shots out of Miller Kopp, Tamar Bates, and Jalen Hood-Schifino when TJD is defended well.
Hood-Schifino, not much of a three-point shooter himself, has been the x-factor for Indiana of late. Jackson-Davis dominated the Illini last time these two faced off, pouring on 35 points. Illinois opponents are shooting only 44% from inside the arc this season, so there’s some hope for better luck against Jackson-Davis and Hood-Schifino this time.
Illinois defends the three very well – if Brad Underwood’s team can somehow find a way to knock Jackson-Davis off his game, they’re in decent shape defensively. That might be true for any team facing Indiana.
Illinois will try to use its size to its advantage. The Illini are the better rebounding and shot-blocking team, though they were out-classed in those departments last time they faced Indiana. That should balance out a bit this time and give Illinois more opportunities.
Illinois doesn’t have a player quite like Jackson-Davis, but Terrence Shannon Jr. looked like a star the last time he faced Indiana, scoring 26 points. Now he’s set to miss this game with a concussion.
Unlike the Hoosiers, Illinois shoots plenty of threes and isn’t all that efficient. Indiana couldn’t slow Shannon down last time despite holding opponents under 41% shooting this season, but now the Illini will have to rely even more heavily on the three ball.
The Hoosiers would gladly take their chances with some of Illinois’ three-point shooters. Someone like Matthew Mayer has the potential for a big game, but the Illini have been too inconsistent from beyond the arc and are walking into a tough offensive environment at Assembly Hall.