The Big Ten Conference always seems to deliver some great college basketball action, and that will be the case on Wednesday night. The Illinois Fighting Illini are set to visit the Northwestern Wildcats for a huge in-state rivalry game.
Illinois blew out Northwestern in the first meeting this season, and they are now sitting at 14-4 on the year. The Fighting Illini are one of the favorites to win the Big Ten this season, but they do already have two losses in league play.
Northwestern got off to a great start to the season, but things have gotten much harder now that league play has started. The Wildcats are sitting at 13-5 on the year, but they have gone just 1-2 in their last three games.
The Fighting Illini are 3.5-point betting favorites on Wednesday night, and the over/under line is set at 147.5 total points.
Illinois Loaded With Weapons
Illinois has scored at least 86 points in back-to-back games, and they are a team that can put points on the board in a hurry. The Fighting Illini are currently led in scoring by Marcus Domask at 14.7 points per game, but he’s not their best player.
Terrence Shannon Jr. is an All-American candidate for Illinois, and he has made his return from suspension. This Illinois team has the ability to make shots from all over the floor, and they can also get out and score in transition.
Head coach Brad Underwood is all about defense, and his team is allowing just 67.5 points per game. Illinois will be extremely physical with Northwestern in an attempt to make life hard for the Wildcats.
Wildcats Must Win With Defense
Northwestern is allowing just 67.4 points per game this season, and that is how they are going to have to attack the Fighting Illini on Wednesday. The Wildcats are not a team that can score points in bunches, and it’s going to take a massive defensive effort to win.
Look for Northwestern to try to slow this game down all night long, and they could even mix in a zone to give the Fighting Illini a different look. Northwestern does have some talent on offense, but they are going to be facing a size disadvantage.
Guard Boo Buie is leading the Wildcats with nearly 18 points per game, and he has proven that he is one of the top players in this league. Buie can give this Illinois team some trouble, but he will also need some help.
Fighting Illini Roll to Win
Even though this game is not going to be as lopsided as the first meeting, this just isn’t a good matchup for Northwestern. The Wildcats are a team that need to shoot the ball well to win games, but it’s not easy to even get shots against Illinois.
The return of Terrence Shannon Jr. gives the Fighting Illini another weapon, and he is going to be the difference in this game. Illinois will set the tone on defense, and they should also be able to get some good scoring opportunities.
Bet on the Fighting Illini to win and cover the 3.5-point spread as they continue their march to the top of the league standings.