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Iowa Hawkeyes at Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Preview

Big Ten rivals will square off in their regular-season finales as the No. 24 Iowa Hawkeyes (22-8, 12-7) take on the No. 20 Illinois Fighting Illini (21-8, 14-5). The Illini will host this one at the State Farm Center, with tipoff scheduled for 7:30 pm ET.

This will be the second time these two have squared off this season. Back on December 6, the Illini took down Iowa 87-83 on the road. Alfonso Plummer and Jacob Grandison both scored 21 points in the victory.

Coming into the finale, Iowa has been on a bit of a roll, having won five in a row. In their last game, they took down Michigan 82-71 on Thursday.

In the victory, Keegan Murray had a game-high 23 points for the Hawkeyes. Jordan Bohannon and Kris Murray each added 19.

After losing to No. 23 Ohio State 86-83 at home last week, the Illini have recovered with back-to-back wins over Michigan and Penn State. On Thursday, they beat the Nittany Lions 60-55 at home.

Da’Monte Williams led the Illini in scoring with 14 points in the win, while Kofi Cockburn and Trent Frazier combined for 21 points.

Illinois opens as the slight favorite playing at home. They are -162 to win while the Hawkeyes’ moneyline sits at +135. The spread features Iowa +3.

By The Numbers

Iowa has one of the most lethal offenses in all of college basketball. They currently rank fourth in scoring averaging 83.6 points per game (78.2 on the road). Illinois ranks 39th, averaging 76.3 points (79.6 at home).

Defensively, Illinois holds the edge. They rank 121st in scoring defense, allowing opponents 67.6 points per game. Iowa ranks 208th as they are allowing 70.9 points to opponents (74.4 on the road).

Iowa Looks To Stay Red Hot

At 22-8 overall, the Hawkeyes have had a solid season, but they have been especially hot as of late, winning five in a row. They would love nothing more than to keep this momentum with a win over Illinois before heading into postseason play.

Sophomore forward Keegan Murray has been electric this season for Iowa. He currently leads the team averaging 23.3 points on 56.6% shooting. He is also averaging 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and two blocks per game.

Other contributors for the Hawkeyes include Jordan Bohannon (11.2 points), Patrick McCaffery (10.5 points, 3.8 rebounds), and Kris Murray (10.2 points, 4.5 rebounds).

Illinois Still Has A Lot To Play For

At 14-5 in the Big Ten conference, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Illini could win the conference regular-season title and be the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. To do so, they would need a lot of help. Not only would they have to beat Iowa, but they would need the dreadful Nebraska Cornhuskers to beat Wisconsin.

While the likelihood of this happening is low, a loss to Iowa would sink the Illini to the third seed, so expect Illinois to come out with a purpose.

This season, the team has been led by big man Kofi Cockburn. In 24 games, he is averaging a double-double with 21 points and 10.5 rebounds.

Aside from Cockburn, the Illini have three others averaging double digits in Alfonso Plummer (15.1 points, 2.6 rebounds), Trent Frazier (12.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, four assists), and Jacob Grandison (10.3 points, four rebounds, 2.4 assists). Unfortunately, Grandison is questionable for Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury.

Take Iowa And The Points

This is a tough one to call. On the one hand, Illinois has a lot more on the line with Sunday’s regular-season finale, but Iowa has undoubtedly been the hotter team as of late.

Even though the Hawkeyes’ defense is suspect at best, their offense can more than make up for it. Expect this one to be close throughout. For that reason, taking Iowa and the points is the best value in this matchup.

Take Iowa +3.

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