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#21 Northwestern Wildcats at Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Preview

A battle in the Prairie State is in store in the Big Ten Conference on Thursday night when the #21 Northwestern Wildcats (20-7, 11-5 Big Ten) visit the Illinois Fighting Illini (18-9, 9-7 Big Ten). Northwestern will try to sweep the season series against the Illini after a 13-point victory at home in early January.

The conference tilt begins at 9 p.m. EST inside the State Farm Center in Campaign, Illinois. The Fighting Illini are a five-point favorite, and the over/under total is currently at 136 points.

What to Know – #21 Northwestern Wildcats

The Wildcats aren’t out of the hunt for the Big Ten regular season title and come into the in-state matchup winners of their last five. Northwestern is in sole possession of second place in the conference, just 1.5-games back of the Purdue Boilermakers. KenPom has the Wildcats ranked 42nd in the country, while the NCAA NET is a little higher on Northwestern, ranking them 38th.

On offense, the Wildcats are 11th in the league scoring 68.5 points per game while hitting 41.1% of their attempts from the floor and 31.8% from deep. Northwestern’s defense ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring, limiting opponents to 61.9 ppg, 40.6% shooting from the field, and 33.1% from three.

So far this season the Wildcats are 17-10 against the spread with a record of 6-2 on the road. Northwestern is 5-0 ATS over its last five contests.

What to Know – Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois had lost three of four conference tests before bouncing back on Monday with a nine-point victory on the road over Minnesota. The Fighting Illini are in a logjam with seven other conference teams in the middle of the Big Ten standings. For comparison, KenPom slots the Illini 28th and the NCAA NET has them at 34th.

The Fighting Illini offense churns out 75.0 ppg, third-best in the conference, shooting 45.5% from the floor and 31.5% from the 3-point line. Defensively, Illinois ranks seventh in the Big Team, surrendering 65.4 ppg, 40.9% shooting from the field, and 33.1% from beyond the arc.

Illinois is 17-10 ATS this year and 10-5 ATS inside the State Farm Center. The Fighting Illini are 6-2 ATS over their last eight contests against conference opponents.

The Pick is In

The Wildcats look to be peaking at just the right time as the calendar flips to March. Northwestern hasn’t won the Big Ten regular season title since 1933, so a chance at history could unfold over the last few weeks.

Illinois continues an up-and-down trend it’s shown all season, but one thing is certain, and that is the Fighting Illini perform much better in Champaign. It seems this season, more than recent years, home-court advantage has played a huge role in the outcomes of some top contests.

We are going to roll the dice here with the home team to cover the points.

The Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini -5

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