The Illinois basketball team enters the Big Ten Tournament needing a win to help solidify NCAA tournament seeding.
This could be a difficult task considering the Illini open up against Penn State. The Nittany Lions have had success against us in the past, but will we find the same fate on Thursday?
Our record this year betting Illinois is 11-10 moneyline, 10-10-1 spread, and 13-10 over/under. It was rough betting on the Purdue game, but hopefully, we have more luck against Penn State.
Here are the Illinois basketball betting odds, predictions, and game info against the Penn State Nittany Lions
Illinois basketball vs. Penn State – Moneyline
Las Vegas has this game being a close one. Illinois is only a moneyline favorite at -140 while Penn State sits at +120.
The series this season has been lopsided. Penn State won the first matchup by 15 points and then took the second matchup by 12 points.
Penn State’s last win over the Illini sparked a little streak of success. They have now won five out of their last six contests. But the one caveat to those wins is the fact they came against bottom of the Big Ten programs.
Illinois is kind of in the same boat. We have won three out of the past five contests, and one of those losses was what ended up being a close game against Purdue on the road.
I think the location is going to matter a lot on Thursday. Illinois is going to have a large fan base at these Big Ten games. We are 6-0 in the last six home games this season. The last loss came to Indiana when Matthew Mayer wasn’t healthy.
On the other hand, Penn State is 3-6 in their last nine road games. They aren’t nearly as good on the road.
I also think there is a bit of a “this is a big game” factor going on. There will be a sense of urgency with the Illini that we haven’t seen all season. It is also tough to beat a team three times in one year. So, that is why I am taking Illinois.
Prediction – Illinois -140
Illinois basketball vs. Penn State – Spread
While Illinois is a favorite against Penn State, we aren’t a huge favorite. The Illini are only -2.5 over the Nittany Lions.
The first thing I always look at when betting on the Illinois spread is three-point shooting percentage. Is the other team good at knocking down shots from deep?
Penn State is a really good three-point shooting team. They are hitting their three-pointers at a clip of 38.9% for the season.
While the Nittany Lions have been great from three-point range for the year, they seemed to have cooled off a bit as of late.
Over the last five games, Penn State has shot below their season average from behind the three-point arc. This gives me hope for Illinois to come out ahead on Thursday.
On top of that, Illinois has been much better at stopping three-pointers as of late. We only gave up 33.3% against Purdue, 38.1% against Michigan, and 21.4% against Ohio State. When we work through screens and closeout strong, this team can play defense on the perimeter.
Look for Illinois to come out of the gates with more energy than we have in the past few games. We are a bad first half team, but these games mean something to these players. I see Illinois taking this contest and giving the points.
Prediction – Illinois -2.5
Illinois basketball vs. Penn State – Over/Under
I bet Las Vegas struggled with this over/under. They have the Illinois vs Penn State game at over/under 140 points.
Just looking at the over/under, one would want to take the over. The last game the two teams played had a total score of 174.
But I don’t think it is as easy as that. Penn State is an extremely slow-playing team. They average just 66.4 possessions per game, which ranks No. 332 in the country.
Illinois tries to be a fast-paced team. We are averaging 71.6 possessions per game, which ranks No. 105 in the country. The thing about Illinois is the fact we play fast but we are extremely inefficient.
For the season, the Illini are taking 24.9 three-pointers per game, which ranks No. 40 in the country, but we are only making them at a clip of 31%, which ranks No. 331 out of 363 DI programs. That is a horrific stat.
A bad shooting quick team might as well be a slow playing decent shooting team as far as the over/under is concerned.
Both teams are very solid on the defensive end of the court as well. Illinois is only giving up 66.6 points per game and Penn State gives up 68.2 points per game. They rank No. 65 and No. 110 in the country, respectively.
Everything the numbers show me screams under. I see Illinois winning, covering the spread, and playing great defense. I think we take the under. The score should finish something like 70-61 in favor of Illinois.
Prediction – Under 140 points
Illinois basketball vs. Penn State – Game Info
Date & Time: March 9 – 5:30 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network
Streaming: Fubo TV