A big time matchup between two Big Ten rivals gets underway as the Indiana Hoosiers head across state lines to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini. Both of these teams are currently standing outside of the rankings but have seen their seasons in and out of the top-25 so far. Indiana started off the season ranked in the top 15 but after a slow start to Big Ten play and a 3-game losing skid, they now sit with an 11-6 record and are desperate to get back to the style of basketball they were playing at the start of the season. It’s not an easy task however as they are missing starters Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson who the team relies heavily on for scoring efforts.
Illinois started the season off hot before hitting a bit of a skid in games too, but now are starting to look just as ready to go on a Big Ten run after playing some decent basketball in recent games. Illinois currently has a 13-5 record with a 4-3 record in conference play. Illinois comes into this game after an 18-point victory at Minnesota to give them plenty of confidence. The Hoosiers also just had an 18-point win against Wisconsin in their last game to break their losing streak and a win against Illinois would be huge. Let’s jump into this game’s picks and predictions:
Indiana vs. Illinois Betting Odds
There are still no betting lines out just yet but one can speculate that Illinois would enter this game as the favorites with this being a home game. These two are pretty similar on the talent level currently and with similar records. ESPN Analytics gives Illinois a 61.6% chance to win this game so not the widest margin but still speculates an Illini victory. I would guess the line won’t be super wide with a spread of possibly -4 in favor of Illinois. Both of these teams are led by guys that are projected to finish Big Ten first-team in Terrence Shannon Jr. and Trayce Jackson-Davis. Indiana has relied on their defense lately with missing some of their better scorers recently which worked to their advantage against Wisconsin, holding them to only 45 points. Illinois has relied mainly on their high-flying offense and 3-point scoring with guys like Shannon, Matthew Mayer, and Coleman Hawkins. Kenpom’s analytical rankings currently has Illinois ranked 21st and Indiana at 28th so pretty close.
The point total line is not placed yet either but expect a high-scoring line for this game. Indiana averages 79.8 PPG while Illinois is currently 76.8. The Hoosiers also allow 67.9 points a game with the Illini allowing 63.7. Expect this line to be placed around 135 or 140.
Indiana vs. Illinois Picks & Predictions
My pick: Illinois ML
I do expect this game to be a close game for the Hoosiers to stick with it, but I think the home atmosphere and the electric 3-point scoring by Illinois will make it hard for Indiana to keep up with them in an Illinois victory. Illinois has many weapons from behind the arc including Matthew Mayer and Jayden Epps. Other than Trayce Jackson-Davis, the Hoosiers rely often on Jalen Hood-Schifino for their offense without really having that many other answers from deep scoring. If they want to stay in this game, they need other players such as Miller Kopp and Tamar Bates to be able to score to keep Indiana in this game. This can be a turning point for both teams moving forward in the Big Ten. The problem with Indiana is their inability to show consistency after big wins. They often don’t bounce back quickly in the first half and if they struggle to start again, it could be too big of a hole to climb themselves out of offensively. Illinois has also shown those issues in many of their losses, coming out lackadaisical which could cause issues for Brad Underwood’s team chemistry. I think the Illini team has fixed those issues and finds a way to win a close one in this rivalry game.
Depending on the line that is placed, I do think this game will be a high scoring game with both teams putting up above 70. I could see this total finishing anywhere around 150 to 160 and a possible over if the line is placed anywhere lower than that.
Terrence Shannon Jr. vs. Indiana
The biggest matchup for the Illini offensively will be how Terrence Shannon Jr. does against the Hoosiers. He is averaging 17.6 PPG and is excellent at driving to the rim. Indiana does have good big men downlow like TJD that could slow him down on his path to the lane but he is a good 3-point shooter as well. He is shooting 32.3% from deep and if he shoots well in this game it could give Illinois the edge they need to walk off with a win.