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Illinois‌ ‌Fighting‌ ‌Illini‌ ‌at‌ ‌Rutgers‌ ‌Scarlet‌ ‌Knights‌ ‌Game‌ ‌Preview,‌ ‌Odds,‌ ‌Picks‌ ‌&‌ ‌Predictions‌

Rutgers a Nemesis for Ranked Foes

Illinois is setting the pace in Big Ten play in both scoring margin and rebounding margin. It is the second number that is likely the more concerning for Rutgers on Wednesday night, since the Fighting Illini outrebounded the Scarlet Knights 47-33 in their first meeting.

Rutgers is 12-2 at home and 4-1 against ranked teams and will look to add to both those numbers against the first-place team in the conference.

Illinois‌ ‌Fighting‌ ‌Illini‌ ‌at‌ ‌Rutgers‌ ‌Scarlet‌ ‌ Knights‌ ‌Game‌ ‌Preview,‌ ‌Odds,‌ ‌Picks‌ ‌&‌ ‌Predictions‌
RICH SCHULTZ / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

Illinois (even) has the second-best odds to win the Big Ten title. The Fighting Illini (+600) have the 11th-best odds to reach the Final Four according to the March Madness odds.

Illinois at Rutgers Game Information

  • Game: Illinois (18-6) at Rutgers (15-9)
  • Location: Jersey Mike’s Arena, Piscataway, NJ
  • Day/Time: Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET
  • Television: Big Ten Network

Illinois Fine with This Traveling Call

The best way to separate contenders from pretenders is by seeing how they perform away from the comforts of home.

Illinois has won eight of its last 10 Big Ten road games and 13 of the last 16. The Fighting Illini have 18 road wins in Big Ten play over the last three seasons, which is four more than any other conference team.

The Fighting Illini are preparing for a fired-up Rutgers crowd on Wednesday.

The last road game did not go very well for the Fighting Illini as then-No. 3 Purdue connected on 51 percent of its shots for a 16-point win. If Illinois wanted to make a statement in its next game, that didn’t exactly happen. The Fighting Illini led by as many as 18 points in the second half, but Northwestern pulled within a point.

Illinois did walk away with a 73-66 win to remain in first place in the Big Ten, but with its next two games on the road against teams that are 24-4 at home, including 11-3 in conference play, this is a key stretch for 12th-ranked Illinois.

Alfonso Plummer had 24 points and Jacob Grandison added 16 off the bench as the Illini crushed Rutgers 86-51 in the first meeting of the season. With the way the Scarlet Knights are playing, the rematch is expected to be much tighter.

Illinois has covered against the college basketball spread in just two of its last eight games.

No lack of Tests for Rutgers

Playing in the Big Ten, it is inevitable that there will be plenty of games against ranked teams, but Rutgers is in the midst of a stretch that is truly something else.

Wednesday’s game against Illinois will be the fourth in a row against a ranked opponent. Two of the next three games after the Illinois contest also come against Top 25 opponents. The lone exception is a Michigan team that was ranked sixth earlier in the season.

In past years, the most noteworthy aspect of such a rugged stretch would be the opponents, but Rutgers is coming off a win at then-No. 14 Wisconsin. It was the highest-ranked Big Ten team Rutgers has defeated on the road since joining the conference.

The Scarlet Knights posted back-to-back wins over ranked teams for the first time in program history. Actually, it is three straight wins against ranked opponents as home wins against No. 19 Michigan State and No. 16 Ohio State were followed by the victory against the Badgers. Rutgers is in fifth place in the Big Ten standings and just two games out of first place.

The Scarlet Knights are doing it with defense. Rutgers is second in Big Ten play with 7.1 steals per game and with 66.1 points allowed per game, and third with 4.6 blocked shots.

Rutgers has covered against the Las Vegas odds in four of its last five games.

Illinois at Rutgers Head-to-Head

Illinois has won the last two meetings by an average of 28.5 points after Rutgers won the previous two matchups, including the last one when the Scarlet Knights were the home team.

The winner of the last four games has also covered each time, with each of the last four games and seven of the last eight finishing over the total.

The winning team has scored more than 85 points five times in the last eight matchups.

Illinois at Rutgers Prediction

Illinois has blown out Rutgers in the last two games, but don’t expect that to happen this time. The Scarlet Knights are providing that they can play with anybody in the Big Ten.

The 135½-point total is a testament to the way Rutgers is getting after it on defense. Something for those who bet online to keep in mind: The last four Rutgers-Illinois games have gone over the total and the last two times the teams met at Rutgers, those contests went over the total by an average of 24½ points.

Steve Pikiell is doing a remarkable job as Rutger’s head coach, but despite the run, the Scarlet Knights are on against ranked teams, it is hard to think that the Fighting Illini won’t get things going once again against the Scarlet Knights.

Pick: Over 135½

Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini -170

 

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