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Sweet-Shooting Arizona Looks to Take Down Illinois

One of the main questions facing Illinois heading into the season was how much offensive help would 7-foot star Kofi Cockburn get from his teammates. Alfonso Plummer is certainly doing his part as he is averaging 23.4 points in the last five games.

Speaking of scoring points, nobody is doing that better and more often Arizona, which is ranked 11th in The Associated Press Top 25 poll. Arizona is not only leading the nation in scoring offense but fourth in Division I in assist/turnover ratio so slowing down the Wildcats will be no easy task.

Dalen Terry celebrates Arizona at Illinois Picks
Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

Arizona (+6600) came into the season with the fourth-best odds to win March Madness among Pac-12 teams and the Wildcats (+550) were the No. 3 choice to win the Pac-12 title. The current national-championship odds list the Wildcats at +2000 and the Fighting Illini at +3300.

  • Game: Arizona Wildcats (8-0) at Illinois Fighting Illini (7-2)
  • Location: State Farm Center
  • Day/Time: Saturday, Dec. 11, 5 p.m. ET
  • Television: FOX

Arizona Wildcats vs Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Lines

Team Point Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Arizona Even (-110) -145 152½ (-110o)
Illinois Even (-110) +125 152½ (110u)

Arizona Wildcats vs Illinois Fighting Illini

Mathurin Starting to Heat up for Arizona Wildcats

Bennedict Mathurin was making significant contributions to Arizona in his first few games even as he was searching for some consistency shooting the ball.

Now that the shots have been falling, Mathurin and the Wildcats have really hit their stride.

The 6-foot-6 freshman from Montreal had made more shots than he has missed in four of his last five game. He shot better than 60% from the field while lighting up Oregon State for a season-high 29 points in Arizona’s Pac-12 opener and in a win over Wyoming the last time out. He’s had at least two 3-pointers in five of the last six games and is a major reason why Arizona is off to an 8-0 start.

The first thing that really got Benn going was the offensive rebounding,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said after the Oregon State game. “That’s something he and I have been talking about, making plays in the effort areas and not just hunting jump shots. Then he hunted some good 3s and our guys found him in that zone.

Mathurin is averaging a team-high 17 points per game for the Wildcats. He leads Arizona with 20 offensive rebounds. Azoulas Tubelis (15.8 points), Christian Koloko (14.4 points, 6.9 rebounds) and Kerr Kriisa (11.0 points, team-high 42 assists) helped Arizona lead the nation in scoring with an average of 91.6 points per game.

Arizona, listed by the Las Vegas odds as a seven-point favorite in a 2019 game against Illinois, ran away with a 90-69 victory in the last meeting. It was the first game between the teams since 2007.

Illinois Fighting Illini Dialing Long Distance

With the dynamic Cockburn dominating inside, it would be easy to overlook the Illinois Fighting Illini’s recent run of success from the perimeter.

Illinois has made at least 11 3-pointers in four of the last five games and it is not a case of simply being a volume shooting team. Illinois had shot better than 40% four times during a five-game winning streak. It’s a far cry from a season ago when the Fighting Illini only shot 40% or better from long distance in consecutive games just one time. During the entire season, Illinois only had more than 10 three-pointers twice.

Plummer has led the way as he leads Illinois with 28 3-pointers on 43% shooting. Jacob Grandison is connecting on 48.4% of his shots from behind the three-point line while Trent Frazier is 14-of-42 from 3-point range.

The ability to connect from 3-point range could be huge when the Fighting Illini put its 10-game home winning streak on the line against an Arizona team that leads the country in points per game. Arizona will be the first ranked nonconference opponent to play at Illinois since 2011 and the 11th-ranked Wildcats will be the highest-ranked team to visit State Farm Center since No. 1 Wake Forest lost to Illinois on Dec. 1, 2004.

The college basketball picks total has gone over in five of Illinois’ last six games.

Arizona-Illinois not Shaping up as Defensive Slugfest

It shouldn’t be shocking to hear that games involving the top-scoring team in the nation have been going over the scores and odds total. That is the case as six of the last seven Arizona games have gone over the total.

Each of the last five games played by Illinois has also gone over the total so it is pretty easy to see which way this game is trending.

Illinois has gone 4-0 in games decided by 10 points or less since a one-point loss to Marquette. Arizona’s only game decided by single figures is a four-point win over Wichita State.

Pick: Over 152½

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