The Fighting Illini are big -8.5 favorites in December 3rd’s Rutgers at Illinois basketball betting matchup. Brad Underwood’s team suffered a couple of tough losses falling 67-66 to Marquette and 71-51 to Cincinnati, but seem to have put those behind them in rattling off three straight victories.
The then #19 Scarlet Knights tallied a 91-88 win over then #13 Illinois last year as part of their 6-0 start, but the Illini got the last laugh in a 90-68 win to knock Rutgers out of the Big Ten Tournament. That’s a lot of points scored between the two teams in last year’s meetings, does that makes Friday night’s total of 134 an instant ‘over’ play?
Is Rutgers Back on Track?
The Scarlet Knights won their first three games of the season – but all at home and against opponents that put them as -13 point or better favorites in each contest. The quality of competition didn’t necessarily improve, but Rutgers dropped their next three each while they were favored.
Those three straight losses were rough, with Steve Pikiell’s team dropping a 73-70 contest at Depaul (-2.5), 53-51 at home to Lafayette (-19.5), and 85-83 at UMass (-2). Those are three close games, but also three tilts in which Rutgers probably should have won.
There is some optimism that Rutgers is turning things around, as even the 85-83 loss to Massachusetts was a good offensive showing in which six different players scored in double figures. The last time out the Scarlet Knights were able to bring home a win for the conference as they beat Clemson 74-64 at the RAC as -1.5 favorites. Ron Harper, Jr. led the win over the Tigers with 23 points, his 7th straight game in double figures to start the year.
Illinois Too Dominant in the Post?
The Fighting Illini split with Rutgers in one regular season game and another in the Big Ten Tournament. One of the keys in both of those games for the Illini was Ayo Dosunmu, who had 22 and 23 points in the two meetings, but he’s off to the NBA. Is that going to doom Underwood’s squad in the Rutgers at Illinois basketball game?
It would be great to have Dosunmu, but Illinois has a pretty solid backup plan in Kofi Cockburn who may be the most dominant player in all of college basketball. Kofi Cockburn had to miss the first couple games of the season after selling his merchandise when he had thoughts of heading to the NBA, but since returning he’s had 18, 23, 38, and 28 points. That’s good enough for a 26.8 ppg scoring average, which would be tops in the country if eligible.
Illinois is a very deep and talented team besides Cockburn, as Alfonso Plummer is 25.5 ppg over the last two. Trent Frazier is a 5th year Senior who has big game potential and Da’Monte Williams is also in his 5th year after shooting 54.5% from beyond the arc (30-55) last season.
Rutgers at Illinois Basketball Betting Pick
Rutgers got the win last season but that was at the RAC where they were 10-4 last season. Illinois dominated in the Big Ten tournament game, and should get a double digit win in front of their home crowd on Friday night.
Rutgers 66 – Illinois 81
Free Pick: Illinois -8.5