Friday night features a Big Ten Conference showdown between the No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes (12-3, 6-2 Big Ten) and No. 19 Illinois Fighting Illini (10-5, 6-3 Big Ten). The matchup will be the only meeting between the two neighboring states.
Tipoff Friday night is set for 9 pm ET inside the State Farm Center in Champaign, IL. Illinois is a two-point favorite in the conference tilt against the Hawkeyes.
What to Know – Iowa Hawkeyes
Two of the Hawkeyes’ last four scheduled games have been postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, meaning the Hawkeyes have played just two games in the previous 18 days. Iowa is 1-1 in that span, with their last contest ending in a 12-point loss to the Indiana Hoosiers at home. The Hawkeyes enter Friday night’s bout sitting in a tie for second place in the Big Ten standings.
Iowa ranks second in the nation averaging 90.7 points while surrendering 73.7 points per game on the defensive end. Pacing the rapid scoring rate is senior center, Luka Garza. Last season’s Big Ten Player of the Year and First Team All-American averages 26.9 points per game, best in the country.
Junior guard Joe Wieskamp is the only other Hawkeye averages in double figures, scoring 14.5 points per game. Guards Jordan Bohannon (9.7 ppg) and CJ Fredrick (9.1 ppg) average just shy of the double-digit mark.
Iowa has been successful against the spread this season with a 10-5 overall record. The Hawkeyes are 6-0 ATS when facing the Fighting Illini in Champaign.
What to Know – Illinois Fighting Illini
The Fighting Illini are in a similar position as the Hawkeyes, having two of their last four scheduled games also postponed for the same reason. Illinois is 1-1 in the two weeks, thumping Penn State by 14 points at home last week. A win against the Hawkeyes would give the Illini a half-game lead over the Hawkeyes in the league standings.
Illinois scores an average of 82.9 points a game while allowing opponents to average 68.9 points per game. Junior guard Ayo Dosunmu decided to forgo the NBA and return to school, and it has paid off as Dosunmu leads the Illini averaging 21.7 points per game. Dosunmu has scored 20 or more points in nine contests, including three games with 30 or more.
Center Kofi Cockburn is second on the team scoring 17.4 points per game and averages a double-double securing 10.3 rebounds per game. The matchup battle between Cockburn and Garza will be fun to monitor during the game Friday night.
The Fighting Illini are 9-6 ATS this season and 6-3 at home. Illinois is 9-4 ATS this season as the favorite and 6-3 as a favorite in conference matchups.
The Pick is In
Friday’s showdown should be an entertaining, high-scoring battle between two top teams in the Big Ten. Expect a back-and-forth game that will be decided in the final minutes of play.
The Illini have been good at home this season, but the play of last season’s Big Ten Player of the Year will be the difference in this one. Take Iowa.
The Pick: Iowa Hawkeyes +2