— Sunday, March 06th Iowa Hawkeyes @ Illinois Fighting Illini
Welcome to the final day of the college basketball regular season, and the Big Ten is celebrating with six games, including a top-four matchup. The No. 20 Illinois Fighting Illini (21-8, 14-5) still have a chance at a shared conference title, while the No. 24 Iowa Hawkeyes (22-8, 12-7) earn a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament with a win. The tipoff of the final game of the Big Ten season is set for 7:30 p.m. ET at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois, on FS1.
On December 6, the Illini went into Iowa City and led by as many as 15 before holding on for an 87-83 win. The Illini won both meetings last year and bring a four-game win streak into this contest. Iowa last won in Champaign with an overtime victory that started a five-game win streak of their own.
Murray Leads Surging Hawkeyes
Iowa is 18-12 ATS, and the over is 19-10-1 in their 30 games. They are 6-5 on the road with four straight wins, including victories at Ohio State and Michigan. Iowa is 8-1 overall since losing at Penn State in double overtime on January 31, and with a win, they clinch fourth place and a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
Iowa’s offense ranks fifth in the nation at 83.6 ppg, and they shoot 46% from the floor, which ranks 75th. The Hawkeyes shoot 35.8% from 3-point range and allow 33.1% defensively, 167th in the nation. They give up 70.9 ppg, which ranks 236th overall, and opponents shoot 43.7% from the floor.
Keegan Murray had 23 points at Michigan on Thursday, and his brother Kirs added 19. Overall the Hawkeyes had four in double figures as Jordan Bohannon finished with 19 and Tony Perkins scored 13.
In the first meeting three months ago, Keegan Murray led the way with 19 while Perkins had 16 points and Patrick McCaffrey had 12. Iowa allowed 44% shooting from 3-point range and got destroyed on the boards, 52-24. The good news is that the Hawkeyes forced 18 turnovers in that game, but they also sent Illinois to the free throw line 28 times.
Keegan Murray leads Iowa at 23.3 ppg and 8.5 rpg while shooting 57% from the field. Bohannon (11.2), McCaffery (10.5), and Kris Murray (10.2) also average in double figures. Perkins has taken over the starting point guard spot, playing at least 21 minutes in three straight games and tallying 13 assists in that span.
Illini Love the 3-Ball
The Illini are 13-16 ATS on the season, and the over is 17-11-1. By the time they tip off, the Illini will know if they can share the Big Ten title with Wisconsin as they need Nebraska to pull an afternoon upset in Madison. In that scenario, the Illini would be the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament, but a loss means the three seed as they don’t have the tiebreaker with Purdue.
The Illini rank 53rd in the country in scoring at 76.3 ppg, and they are 44th in 3-point shooting at 36.7%. Defensively they rank 70th in shooting percentage (41.3), 106th against the 3-pointer (32.1), and 135th in scoring (67.6).
Illinois struggled with Penn State during the week and only won 60-55. Damonte Williams led the way with 14 points while Kofi Cockburn had 11, and Trent Frazier scored 10. Illinois shot just 36% from the field and got out-rebounded 34-29.
Cockburn dominated Iowa in the first meeting with 17 points and 18 rebounds. Alfonso Plummer and Jacob Grandison each made four 3-pointers to finish with 42 combined points, and Frazier added 18. Illinois had 18 turnovers in that game but also played without Andre Curbelo, who has since returned from a concussion and neck injury.
Cockburn has scored at least 10 points in every game this season, and he averages a double-double with 21 ppg and 10.5 rpg. Plummer, who had 23 in the first half against Michigan last weekend, averages 15.1 ppg, and Frazier is at 12.5. They have combined for 149 3-pointers on the season, while Grandison has made 55 and averages 10.3 ppg.
- Iowa Hawkeyes +3.5 (-110).
- Illinois Fighting Illini -3.5 (-110).
- Total Points 153.5 Over -110. Under -110
The Illinois offense is all about the 3-pointer and Cockburn. That bodes well against Iowa as they don’t have a true center to body Cockburn, and they allow 33% shooting from deep. They will need to keep Illinois off the line and force turnovers to stop the home crowd from getting into the game.
Betting Pick: Illinois -3.5 (-110)
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Barry Devoe can regularly be found rocking the sticks on League of Legends, Rocket League, and CS:GO, but he loves his traditional sports as well. Barry is a Chicago sports fan through and through, but his knowledge of the game is second-to-none. When he's not watching or playing, he works as a baseball umpire and football referee.