In a huge battle for first place in the Big Ten, the best conference in college basketball this season, Maryland heads to Illinois to face the Fighting Illini at 8:00 p.m.
Both of these teams are in contention for both a conference championship as well as a Final Four, and with the national college basketball schedule basically to themselves, the eyes of the sport will be on Champaign tonight.
Let’s break this down a bit further.
Records & stats
No. 9 Maryland: 18-4, 8-3 B1G. NET 10, Ken Pom 10
No. 20 Illinois: 16-6, 8-3 B1G. NET 31, Ken Pom 24
Point Spread, Total, Odds, Trends
Spread: Illinois -3
Money Line: Illinois -159
The bettors are for sure favoring the home team, with 76% of the bets and 93% of the cash favoring Illinois at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Pick: Illinois -3 vs. Maryland
This is a close matchup of two teams that play a similar style, but Illinois is just too strong at home this season, and the splits for I-L-L’s star guard Ayo Dosunmu are too good at the State Farm Center.
The Illini defense is 27th nationally in adjusted efficiency at 92.1 according to Ken Pom, but that ratchets up even further on their court. Maryland is actually even better at 88.3, but it’s just tougher to defend good teams on the road. Plus the rebounding of Illinois (36.7% offensive rebound rate) translates to second-chance opportunities. Look for a nice game from the Terps Anthony Cowan, but his stats on the road aren’t as strong.
Illinois is trending up with five-straight wins, and only lost by one in College Park 59-58 on December 7th to open Big Ten play. They won’t repeat that performance, and win by at least two possessions tonight.
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