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Pick on the Total for Rutgers-Illinois on January 21

VSiN’s Greg Peterson goes over the best betting options for Sunday’s college basketball matchup between the Rutgers Scarlett Knights and Illinois Fighting Illini.

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NCAA Basketball: Colgate at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

After being suspended indefinitely from the team just before the calendar turned to 2024, Illinois Fighting Illini top scorer Terrence Shannon returns to the lineup on Sunday to face the Rutgers Scarlett Knights at home.

Rutgers Scarlett Knights vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (-12, 146)

Shannon is averaging 21.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game on 40.7% 3-point shooting but despite the big offensive numbers, he might have been missed more on defense than on offense.

In the six games Shannon has missed, four of Illinois opponents scored more than 70 points and the team surrendered 15.4 points more per 100 possessions.

The process of getting back into the swing of things defensively couldn’t have come at a better time for Illinois and Shannon, however, with Rutgers entering the weekend ranked 300th in the nation in points scored on a per-possession basis and 318th in 3-point shooting percentage at 29.9%.

What Rutgers lacks on offense is made up on the defensive side of things though, ranking eighth in points allowed on a per-possession basis.

While Rutgers’ defense has not been the same when playing on the road — allowing 25 more points per 100 possessions, Illinois’ offense is unlikely to be at its best either with trying to reacquaint Shannon back into the offense.

In games that have not gone to overtime, Rutgers has allowed 73 points or fewer in all but three of its games this season. One of those three losses was a 76-58 loss at home against Illinois.

In the first meeting between these two teams, Shannon was the game’s leading scorer with 23 points despite Illinois committing 17 turnovers in the game.

With Rutgers entering the weekend ranked 26th in the nation in turnovers forced on a per-possession basis on defense, Sunday’s game will turn into a defensive showcase for both teams.

The Play: Rutgers vs. Illinois Under 146