In-State Rivals Clash
The Illinois Fighting Illini (9-4, 0-2 Big Ten) and Northwestern Wildcats (10-3, 1-1) renew their in-state rivalry on Wednesday night. Both squads feature solid defenses but scoring has been a problem at times. Which offense can overcome a tough test in Wednesday’s Big Ten Conference battle?
Illinois is 3-2 overall and 2-3 against the spread (ATS) in the last five games while Northwestern is 4-1 and 2-3 ATS during the span.
Let’s check the latest college basketball odds, stats, injury reports and college basketball lines for Illinois vs Northwestern. We’ve plenty of NCAA basketball odds for you to consider.
Fighting Illini Searching for Scoring Balance
December was a rough month for Illinois. It started with a massive 85-78 win against No. 6 Texas. Since then, it’s been a steady fall. The Fighting Illini started Big Ten play with losses against Maryland and Penn State. On Dec. 22, Illinois suffered its worst loss yet against No. 20 Missouri (93-71).
The defense has been the Fighting Illini’s calling card, ranking 26th in efficiency and 10th in opponent 2-point shooting percentage. Plus, Illinois is sixth in blocks per game led by forwards Coleman Hawkins (1.4) and Dain Dainja (1.2). However, Illinois was punked in the paint against Missouri, which shot 59.3% from the field.
In the previous game, the Fighting Illini had a chance to gather themselves with an 85-52 win over Bethune-Cookman. The offense still has a long way to go as it lacks balance. Wings Terrence Shannon Jr. (17.8 points) and Matthew Mayer (9.5 points) have carried the load. Shannon is averaging 17.7 points in the last three games, and Mayer is totaling 15.8 points per game in the last five.
Wildcats Want to Make It Ugly
Northwestern’s identity is as clear as day. The Wildcats like to play games ugly with a bruising defense, which ranks seventh in efficiency. Plus, Northwestern’s tempo ranks in the bottom third nationally.
This is by design as the Wildcats’ offense is far below average. The unit ranks in the bottom third of points per game and is 195th in efficiency. The shooting numbers are ugly with Northwestern ranking in the bottom four of shooting percentage. The Wildcats lean on the 3-ball at 26.2 attempts per game (30th). They are not efficient from deep either, ranking in the bottom 22% of the 3-point shooting percentage.
When opposing offenses find success, Northwestern cannot keep up. The Wildcats come off a 73-57 loss against No. 24 Ohio State. The Wildcats shot an embarrassing 28.4% while the Buckeyes finished at 46.4% from the floor.
Fortunately, Illinois’ offense leans on 2-pointers; Northwestern leads the country in allowed 2-point shooting percentage. The Wildcats have a great opportunity to grab their second win in conference play.
Illinois vs Northwestern Game Injuries
Illinois vs Northwestern Head-to-Head
Illinois has dominated this series since 2019 with eight consecutive wins. However, Northwestern has covered three consecutive games against the Fighting Illini.
Illinois vs Northwestern Game Information
- Game: Illinois (9-4, 0-2 Big Ten) vs Northwestern (10-3, 1-1)
- Location: Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, IL
- Day/Time: Wednesday, Jan. 4, 9 p.m. ET
- Illinois vs NorthwesternLive stream: TBS.com
Illinois vs Northwestern Betting Lines
Illinois vs Northwestern Picks & Prediction
The Fighting Illini are slight favorites at -170 on the moneyline. Illinois has plenty of potential with great rim protectors and high-level scorers in Shannon and Mayer. In this matchup, Northwestern’s offense is too bad to keep up. Illinois’ defense is no slouch, ranking in the top 12% of allowed points per game and opponent effective field goal percentage.
This game could be decided by the pace of play. As mentioned, Northwestern plays at one of the slowest paces nationally while Illinois plays quicker than 80% of the country. The Fighting Illini will cover by forcing the Wildcats to play out of their comfort zone.
Illinois is listed at -170 in our Las Vegas college basketball lines. This means that if you wager $100 on the Illini, you have a chance to win $59. Northwestern is +148, offering a chance to win $148 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives Illinois a 62.96% chance to win, with Northwestern at 40.32%.