The Fighting Illini are streaking coming into the February 2nd Illinois at Iowa basketball free pick having won 7 in a row. Thanks to a Michigan State loss on Saturday, Brad Underwood’s team sits atop the Big 10 by their lonesome. Up next on the conference grind is a visit to Carver-Hawkeye Arena where Iowa has gone 10-1 on the season.
The Hawkeyes have been made -4.5 favorites in this battle of the #19 and #18 teams in the country. Iowa has won four straight in the series, so there’s value on them – especially at home. Illinois getting points on a 7 game win streak looks very appealing as well though. 61% of the public does like Illinois in this one.
Illinois Transcending the Matchup Right Now?
Obviously the Illini have faced some tough tasks during their current 7 game win streak – the Big 10 is the best conference in college hoops this season.
It’s going to be tough to go to Carver – Hawkeye in the February 2nd Illinois at Iowa basketball free pick where the home team is 10-1. That was also the case for the Illini in road wins at Wisconsin, at Purdue, and at Michigan during the month of January though.
Illinois’ calling card during their run to 1st place has been their defense, as strangely enough only Northwestern as well as Wisconsin have broken the 62 point barrier since a loss to Michigan State on January 2nd. That will be tested against Iowa’s #20 scoring offense in the country on Sunday afternoon though.
Make no mistake, the Illini can put the ball in the bucket themselves. Iowa is very top-heavy in their scoring but Illinois has found some nice depth that does help a team travel better. Kofi Cockburn is the 7’1 cog in the middle that can give Iowa’s superstar fits in this matchup. Then, how do the Hawkeyes counter Ayo Dosunmu (27 at. Michigan), Trent Frazier (21 at Purdue), and Andres Feliz (15+ off bench last two)?
Iowa Wants This One Tremendously
The reason the Hawks have value in this one is because they’re going to be extremely fired up for a variety of reasons. The first being that the Hawkeyes are playing at home, where they have gone 10-1 on the season. The next is that first place Illinois is coming to town. This ‘rivalry’ hasn’t been much so lately as the Illini haven’t won in the series since February of 2017. Finally, the Hawks are coming off their first loss in 3 weeks, a 10 point defeat at Maryland on Thursday.
Illinois has the depth, but Iowa arguably has the best player in this game in Luka Garza. He needs to avoid foul trouble doing battle against Cockburn though as that’s what limited Garza to 24 minutes in the loss at Maryland. Otherwise, the player of the year candidate has scored 21+ in 7 of 8 including 34 vs. Penn State and 33 against Michigan.
Iowa is not a one man show however. Joe Wieskamp is a 15 ppg player while CJ Fredrick has tallied double figures in 4 of 5. Ryan Kriener scored 10+ off the bench in three straight, but has put up just 9 total the last two games.
February 2nd Illinois at Iowa Basketball Free Pick
A shorthanded Wisconsin team held off Michigan State on Saturday proving just how important the venue is in Big 10 hoops. 4.5 points is a lot for a team that has a great chance of winning this one outright, but Illinois would be the easy play here. Iowa – at home – and with all their recent success over Illinois become the play.
Pick: Iowa Hawkeyes -4.5