The Fighting Illini (5-1) sit just barely inside the Top 25 at #24, but that ranking is going to be put to the test on Saturday afternoon in the December 2nd Illinois at Rutgers betting matchup. Brad Underwood’s club is playing their first road game of the season and Jersey Mike’s Arena (The RAC) has been one of the toughest places for opponents to get a win over the last five season.
Rutgers (5-1) has continued their success on their own floor this year, starting off 5-0 which is why they are a -1.5 favorite against a Top 25 team. Public wagering absolutely loves the Scarlet Knights here with numbers reaching 80% at times – which can be a good thing or a bad thing when the line has only moved 1/2 a point.
Why Illinois Has Value at +1.5 Points
The December 2nd Illinois at Rutgers betting matchup is likely going to be low scoring and could come down to the last possession, so in a game that could go either way why not take the points? The O/U of 137.5 actually seems high for a game between the Fighting Illini, who rank #1 in the country on defense in effective field goal percentage (37.8) and Rutgers who is 7th at 40.7%.
Make no mistake, a lot of both teams’ early season impressive numbers has been due to a couple of very soft non-conference schedules. That being said, Illinois is the more battle tested of the two with their lone loss coming 71-64 to then #4 Marquette.
Since the loss to Marquette, the Fighting Illini have won three straight all by at least 23 points while scoring 84+ points in each victory. Terrence Shannon, Jr. (19.5 ppg) is a 5th year Senior that provides the type of experience it takes to get this big early season Big 10 road win.
Why Rutgers Has Value at -1.5 Points
Sure Illinois’ loss to #4 Marquette was more likely than Rutgers falling 68-61 to Princeton in their season opener in Trenton, NJ as -5.5 favorites, but the Scarlet Knights have bounced back nicely to win five straight. Sure they’ve been double digit favorites in each, but stacking wins is how you gain momentum for Saturday’s Big Ten opener.
Rutgers doesn’t have the type of scoring prowess that Illinois does with Shannon, but they do have the defense that can keep the Fighting Illini at bay if Shannon does struggle shooting in his first road game of the season. That will especially be true if the Fighting Illini continue to be without Senior Coleman Hawkins, who has missed half of the team’s six games this year with a knee injury.
What the Scarlet Knights do have in this spot is a definite home court advantage, as they’ve won the last three in Piscataway against Illinois. Two of them have been blowouts, 72-57 in 2020 and 70-59 in 2022 as well as a 91-88 thriller in the 2020/21 season.
Free December 2nd Illinois at Rutgers Betting Pick
Do you just take Rutgers until Illinois proves they can win in New Jersey? Getting Hawkins back would be a huge boost for the Fighting Illini and why not test the knee in the Big Ten opener? Ultimately though this is a line play – and with so many bettors being on Rutgers with no spread adjustment you take Illinois.
Free Pick: Illinois +1.5