In early January of 2023, a Big Ten matchup between two rivals takes place as the Wisconsin Badgers head to Illinois to take on the Fighting Illini. Both of these teams have been competitive so far in this early season. Wisconsin started the season unranked but come into this game with an 11-2 record and ranked 14th in the AP polls. Illinois on the other hand, started this season ranked on a very nice pace before hitting a bid of a skid and starting to show some inconsistencies in games.
They enter this game unranked with a 9-5 record. Illinois’ season has wins over ranked teams like Texas and UCLA, but also features losses to Penn State, Missouri, and Northwestern. It will be interesting to see what Illinois team we see in this matchup. Wisconsin only has one ranked win on the year against Maryland and losses to Kansas and Wake Forest. Maryland has since fallen out of the rankings so while they do have a good record, playing against a competitive Illinois team will be a test for them as they get further into the Big Ten season. Let’s jump into this game’s matchup picks and predictions:
Wisconsin vs. Illinois Betting Odds
While there are no betting odds currently placed, we can speculate on who enters this game the favorites. While Wisconsin may be the ranked team, Illinois might have a better chance at winning this game. They are playing at home and also outrank Wisconsin when it comes to Kenpom’s analytical rankings. Illinois is currently ranked 40th while Wisconsin is 47th. ESPN Analytics also gives Illinois a 70% chance to win this game which is pretty decent odds. One could speculate they could enter as four or five point favorites. A lot of questions still surround this Wisconsin team facing talented competition so it might leave some to doubt how they will play on the road. Illinois comes into this game after a double digit loss to Northwestern and you have to assume they are quite eager to make a statement rebound game in this one. Illinois is also 0-3 in Big Ten games so far so they will also be desperate to get their first conference win of the season to have a fighting chance at the conference championship. Wisconsin enters this game 3-0 in conference play.
There is no over/under total yet placed but can speculate on scoring averages from both teams. Wisconsin currently averages 68.5 PPG while Illinois averages 76.8. The Illini also allow defensively 64.4 points a game while the Badgers allow 61.2. I’d expect the total to be placed around 130.
Wisconsin vs. Illinois Picks & Predictions
My Pick: Illinois ML
I like Illinois to bounce back in this win and get on the board early in this game. Wisconsin still hasn’t played a whole level of competition and I think this game will see them suffer their first loss of the Big Ten season. Illinois is good when they get their fast break going and the 3 ball sharp so if they can do that early, I don’t know if Wisconsin can keep up since they are traditionally a defensive first team. Illinois has three players averaging double digit scoring in Terrence Shannon, Dain Dainja, and Matthew Mayer. But it’s other guys like Coleman Hawkins who needs to get going. He is currently shooting around 28% from the 3 point line but can certainly get going so if he is shooting from deep and other guys like Jayden Epps also perform well, it should be a good win for Illinois. Wisconsin is led by Tyler Wahl and Chucky Hepburn who each average around 13 and 12 points.
Depending on where this line is placed at, I think this game could be an over game. I could see the line being placed low with Wisconsin’s known defensive scheme, but I like Illinois bouncing back offensively after a poor performance against Northwestern.
Terrence Shannon vs. Wisconsin
Terrence Shannon needs to be playing at his top level against Wisconsin. He is averaging 17.1 points a game and head coach Brad Underwood discussed wanting him to raise his leadership after a loss earlier this season. This game is a big game where he can lead Illinois to victory with his scoring as well as averaging 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Wisconsin will certainly scheme for him, so he will need to be able to make sure to get others on this team involved like Dainja and Mayer who each average around 10 points. Getting Mayer involved from the 3-point line will be crucial to help get this team ahead.